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VIDEO: Top-eight dream still alive despite topsy turvy season

VIDEO: The Lions’ top-eight dream is still alive and kicking despite the gargantuan task ahead in the next three rounds of the United Rugby Championship to move up from their 11th spot on the table.

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That is the opinion of forwards coach Barend Pieterse ahead of their Round 16 fixture this weekend when they host Cardiff at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Cardiff is one position below the Lions, but the points difference is quite significant with the men from Johannesburg on 39 and the Welsh side sitting with 25 points.

Asked if he thought his team still had a realistic chance of sneaking into the back door of the top eight, Pieterse was adamant it remained a focus.

“Obviously the points are very close. We didn’t do ourselves a favour against Ospreys, our last game overseas, as well as our game against Munster,” Pieterse replied.

“All we can do is we have to keep on winning, get as many points as possible.

“And then one or two things go our way from the other results as well, but that is not something we can count on. Really, the only thing we can do is concentrate on this week and then the next week and then the next week.

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“The top eight dream for us is still alive.

“And that is something we talk about every day and we train for every day.

“We have been up and down this whole season – good game, bad game. That is something that needs improvement like yesterday already.

“If we want to play in the Champions Cup that is something we need to be better at.”

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Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen hinted at the tactics of Munster during the post-match press conference to dictate the tempo of the game and Pieterse also made mention of it.

“That is something they did really well and unfortunately we slacked a bit.

“When we had the ball we also slowed it down, looking back at the game now. So that is something we can be better at.

“When we are in charge of the game – our line-outs – that is where we should try and speed it up.

“We knew they were going to do it, we spoke to the refs before the game and they said they will try and handle it.

“It’s a difficult situation. If someone sits at the scrum, they stop the clock, you can’t just continue playing,” Pieterse explained.

It is not unrealistic to assume that Cardiff will apply the same tactics this weekend.

“If Cardiff is clever they would copy and paste a lot of the things that Munster did,” Pieterse said, adding: “That is something we take up with the refs and the head of the refs so they can assist with that.

“The only way to fix that is we have to be better. We have to be better in our breakdowns and our set-piece in general in terms of how to execute.

“They will get confidence from our game against Munster. Tthey will take stuff out of that and they will have confidence from that.”

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