Ready for the action: Courtnall Skosan, with ball in hand, could be one of a handful of Springboks to return to play for the Lions in their Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs at the weekend. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Ready for the action: Courtnall Skosan, with ball in hand, could be one of a handful of Springboks to return to play for the Lions in their Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs at the weekend. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

It is unlikely in the 125 years of the Currie Cup’s existence that a team went from last on the points table to securing a home semifinal a week later.

It perhaps says more of this year’s closely contested Currie Cup format than it does of the Golden Lions’ eleventh-hour grasping of a wake-up.

When they kicked off against Western Province at a rain-soaked Ellis Park on Sunday they were bottom of the pile following earlier wins on the weekend for the Blue Bulls and Griquas.

Fact is, they are not in the semis yet, let alone hosting one. First the Lions have to cross fingers that Western Province slip up against the table-topping Sharks in Durban on Saturday before they go in search of a win against the Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park.

The first part of the equation is really in the hands of the Sharks and to what degree they will expose their first-choice players to the furnace a week ahead of a semifinal.

The Lions versus Cheetahs match-up is potentially an intriguing one with both teams likely to incorporate fresh faces in their line-up.

The Lions could welcome Springboks such as in-form hooker Malcolm Marx, scrumhalf Ross Cronjé, wing Courtnall Skosan, fullback Andries Coetzee and tighthead Ruan Dreyer, while the Cheetahs, who have no Pro14 commitments this weekend, could potentially call on centre Francois Venter (to captain the side), hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld, utility back Sergeal Petersen and wing Raymond Rhule.

They will be welcome additions to the Cheetahs, who have gone backwards after a bright start. They have had to spread their resources thin across the Pro14 and the Currie Cup.

Although the Cheetahs are third on the points table they could slip out of the top four should they lose and the Blue Bulls secure a bonus-point win over the Pumas.

It will be a miracle if they qualify for the semifinals while still making a fist of it in Europe.

But the Lions will be tough to beat. They may well recall how they lost to the Cheetahs after the full-time siren in Bloemfontein in August.

TimesLIVE

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