Lions captain Josh Strauss believes the hiatus from Super Rugby will stand his team in good stead before they end off their disappointing season after the international break.
Strauss was speaking after his side's surprise 38-28 win over the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday, lifting the Lions off the bottom of the table into 14th place.
“With the injuries that we've had we haven't had the luxury of being able to rest key players,” Strauss said.
“So I think a lot of the players have been playing 80 minutes for the full 13 games and they need the break.”
The Lions, who recorded only their second win of the competition, looked impressive against the Sharks Ä who are in the hunt for a playoff place Ä by scoring four first-half tries.
Though they lost concentration at the beginning of the second period, Strauss said he was pleased that his side were able to maintain their performance to the final whistle.
“For the first time in 13 games, we concentrated for longer than 60 minutes,” he said.
“The backline players really put us on the front foot and our tactical kicking was excellent.
“I think our set pieces were good. Our contests in the line-out were awesome throughout.”
Strauss added that Butch James' return to the side had steadied the ship after the Sharks threatened to take the game to the hosts.
“You can't buy experience. He really helped Elton 1/8Jantjies 3/8 out and you could see the confidence with him there,” the skipper said.
“This game was a big confidence boost and exactly what we needed going into the break.”
Strauss said he was disappointed with the season but injuries to the squad had prevented them from building momentum.
“It's always a tough feeling when people write you off. We work just as hard as any of the other unions,” he said.
“The battle we had with injuries was a big blow so we are feeling a little bit of relief and reward after a tough season.”
Meanwhile, Lions coach John Mitchell said he was proud of the way his young team performed against a far more experienced Sharks outfit.
“Nine out of those 22 players today never did the full pre-season and six of those boys in that group today haven't even played Currie Cup,” Mitchell said.
“So that gives you an idea of the situation we're in.”
“While people might be after results, which is what this competition is all about, we've been in a position where we've actually developed quite a lot of rugby players going forward, so its nice to see them getting rewarded.” – Sapa