tough trek for lions

ml/26-10-07/lions trip/news/today
pic masi losi
A group of Gauteng Lions cheer for their teams as they were about to board a train to watch them play in the final in Bloemfontein
ml/26-10-07/lions trip/news/today pic masi losi A group of Gauteng Lions cheer for their teams as they were about to board a train to watch them play in the final in Bloemfontein

ONE thing is certain about the Gauteng Lions' arduous six-week trip to Australia and New Zealand - they will be logging many Voyager miles.

With their first match this Saturday in New Zealand's capital Wellington against the Hurricanes - after an 18-hour flight from Johannesburg - it will be a three-hour flip across the Tasman Sea to Canberra, where they will take on the Brumbies a week later. On March 12, it's up the west coast of Australia for a date with the Waratahs in Sydney before returning to New Zealand again, where they will front up to the formidable Crusaders in Christchurch.

Wrapping up the tour will be a date with the Highlanders in the picturesque city of Dunedin before taking the long flight home.

Five matches in six weeks is tough for the best of teams. For a side such as the Lions - with a new coaching structure and a number of rookies in their ranks - it must appear daunting.

With two losses from their opening matches - 13-26 to the Stormers and 65-72 to the Chiefs - it's going to be uphill all the way.

What the side can take out of their first two appearances is that at times the forwards have looked solid in the set pieces and the backs slick on attack.

Lack of consistency must be a worry and playing in 10-minute spurts will be exposed by the opposition.

Saturday's opponents, the Hurricanes, have had a strong start to their Super 14 campaign and have already put their hand up as a semifinalist contender.

At home the Hurricanes are a tough side. Laden with All Blacks including Andrew Hore, Jason Eaton and the elusive Cory Jane, the Hurricanes will be looking for a bonus-point win on Saturday night.

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