Warren Whitely of Lions during the Carling Black Label Currie Cup rugby match between Bulls and Lions on the 06 January 2020 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium , Pretoria/ Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Warren Whitely of Lions during the Carling Black Label Currie Cup rugby match between Bulls and Lions on the 06 January 2020 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium , Pretoria/ Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

You need to be brave sometimes, says Lions coach

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Jan 8, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Can the Lions tame the Bulls the second time around at Loftus Versfeld? Well, coach Ivan van Rooyen obviously believes so, but acknowledges that his team have a lot of work to do if they want to win their Currie Cup semi-final.

The Johannesburg side dominated a number of periods during their 22-15 defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria on Wednesday, where a victory would have secured a home play-off at Ellis Park.

They were 9-0 up after the opening quarter through Tiaan Swanepoel’s boot, but poor discipline and several missed try-scoring opportunities saw the visitors allow the hosts back into the game.

They turned at 12-9 behind, and Embrose Papier’s game-breaking five-pointer after the break opened up a 10-point gap that was too big for the Lions.

Having built a reputation as a fine attacking team, it was surprising to see Elton Jantjies’ team kick the ball downfield instead of keeping ball-in-hand, and it’s something Van Rooyen is planning to address with his players.

“It’s been a while since we haven’t scored a try. We created enough opportunities to score, though, and if you want to be different and go far in this competition, you need to be brave sometimes and take a chance. We will challenge that mindset in the next 10 days – when it’s on, it’s on, and when it’s not on, it’s not on,” the Lions boss said.

“Part of the teachings and learnings that we have to do every week is to sit with the kickers and drivers and reassess – see what they saw, what did they feel, why did they make those decisions. We will look in-depth into that second half and take big learnings from that.

“So, a little bit more decisive from our side: whether we kick or run, defend or whatever. It just felt a little bit indecisive (against the Bulls).

“Obviously frustrated, but we had four good chances, every time, it was a different individual error that we made. We will make sure that we come back sharper, and be more clinical.”

Van Rooyen expressed his happiness with his team’s defence, but felt that the forwards were too inconsistent in the scrums. The Lions’ front row of Dylan Smith, Jaco Visagie and Jannie du Plessis won a few penalties initially, but the Bulls – led by Trevor Nyakane’s exploits – turned the tide in the second quarter.

At least they will have until January 16 to fix things before they run on to Loftus for the semi-final.

“We sat upstairs and we could feel the momentum swing, and unfortunately, we felt like we took too long to get the momentum back on our side. To be honest, we will have to go and look at the set-piece and see where we can paint the right pictures and improve our consistency,” he said.

“We made crucial errors at crucial times, and obviously disappointed with the result. But we’ve got 10 days to fix it, and come back to Loftus and be ready.”

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