Johannesburg – Lions pivot Marnitz Boshoff is fast becoming the darling of Ellis Park after his metronomic kicking proved to be the undoing of their Super Rugby opposition for the second consecutive weekend.
Boshoff contributed 29 of his side's points in their 34-10 routing of the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday.
While the 25-year-old snatched victory at the death with a drop goal against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a week before, the side's defensive efforts, coupled with Boshoff's kicking, won the game.
His performance, which included three drop goals, six penalty goals and conversion, earned him praise from different quarters.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admitted his side had no answers to Boshoff's long-range drop goals and the Lions' inspirational defensive efforts.
“The most important thing for me is not to make excuses, but to give credit to the Lions, the way they play, and I mean 29 points from Marnitz Boshoff, says a lot,” Coetzee said after the match.
“He's done really well. There is nothing much you can do about a guy that stands 50 metres back and slots the drop goals.”
This was the Lions' first victory over the Stormers in 10
outings and the first time in seven years they have won two consecutive matches.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann had reason to smile after few pundits gave the Johannesburg franchise a chance in the competition following a year in the wilderness. The former Springbok praised his charges for the character they showed, particularly in defence.
“I am very humbled by what I saw out there. The guys played out of their skins and showed a lot of guts and character,” Ackermann said.
“I don't know what else to say more than how proud I am of all the guys for the effort they've put in there. The way they played, the character they have shown, the commitment with 14 men in 20
minutes. They didn't let the Stormers in, so from that point of view it must be one of the best games I've been involved in.”
Ackermann said while the team would celebrate the victory, they were well aware it was still early in the competition.
“It is an amazing feeling but we must realise that it is still only the second game and you must take it while you can but there is still a lot of hard work for us,” he said.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers took an honest and critical stance in his response to the team's defeat in their opening Super Rugby match. While he lambasted his side for their lack of commitment he credited the Lions for playing clever rugby by playing in the right areas.
“I just don't think that performance was good enough, first of all to compete in this competition and secondly for what we stand for as a team. It must be the worst performance in six or seven years, the biggest loss we've had in about seven years, and it just wasn't good enough.
“At times like this the players must take responsibility and own up to what we dished up out there today.”
De Villiers and Coetzee were in agreement that the team needed a quick turnaround ahead of Friday's match against the Hurricanes in Cape Town if they wanted to stay in contention.
Speaking of his dream debut in Super Rugby in which he had raced to 50 points after only two matches, Boshoff remained humble when he faced the media after the game.
“The forwards made it easy for me tonight, same as last week. They have a good work ethic and I am just proud of Warren (Whiteley, Lions captain) and the boys,” Boshoff said.
“I don't think it was the plan (going for three drop goals) but the thing is if there is nothing on, you either put it up or go for the drop goal, so luckily it paid off tonight.”
Ackermann said the Lions still preferred a running game but he had given Boshoff licence to play the situation.
“It is still up to Bossie (Boshoff). He knows we're a team that likes to run and if he feels it is not on to run and he wants to have a go for it at least the pressure will stay on the opposition and we will receive the ball back,” Ackermann said.
“While we are not chasing the game it is an option and if you have a guy that has the quality with the boot like Marnitz then you can use it, so hopefully teams will try and counter that and it will give the team an opportunity to run again.” – Sapa