The Jaguares may be gasping for air in Ellis Park’s rarefied atmosphere on Saturday‚ but it is the ball Lions coach Swys de Bruin wants to deprive them of the most in the Super Rugby quarterfinal.
The Jaguares‚ once they are on the front foot through their combative pack‚ come at you from all angles and De Bruin has no desire to preside over proceedings where he is required to plug holes the whole afternoon.
"We’ll have to put in a massive defensive effort‚ not purely from a defence point of view but to pressure them to get the ball back. That is a main work-on for us‚ how to apply pressure on their attack‚" De Bruin said.
The Jaguares pose a threat at close quarters‚ as well as on the periphery where utility back Emiliano Boffelli has helped himself to 10 tries in the competition this season.
He is third overall and the highest scorer from the South African conference. The Jaguares arrived in SA on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run but have since lost to the Bulls and Sharks.
Lions captain Warren Whiteley ran the rule over the side that sprung to life after a lethargic start to the season.
'A very dangerous side'
"They are a very dangerous side. We’ve seen they can win away from home. When their pack operates and they get good front football they are extremely dangerous. They play those tip-on passes. They play off 10. Then they have those wingers and the fullback who is extremely dangerous‚" said Whiteley‚ no doubt having Boffelli in mind.
The Lions possess a pack that could put the squeeze on the visitors. Their scrum in particular is making inroads while the return of hooker Malcolm Marx serves the dual purpose of wrecking ball carrier and ball plucking pilferer at the ruck.
"We have to dominate the set piece‚" Whiteley said. "That will be a massive battle for us. We have to starve them of possession. If we can up the intensity and get their forwards moving around we can get quick ball and Elton [Jantjies] and the rest can do the rest."
Interestingly‚ the Jaguares have opted to base themselves in Durban until Thursday. That was a brave call especially given the manner in which they fell well off the pace in their defeat against the Bulls.