Lions defeat gives SA teams more information to find victory
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JOHANNESBURG – Josh Adams of the British & Irish Lions streaks to the tryline to score one of his four tries against the Sigma Lions on Saturday night.
There was definitely one positive from the Sigma Lions' loss on Saturday night, according to Ivan van Rooyen: The sides that the British & Irish Lions play in the coming weeks will have a little bit more information at their disposal to overcome the tourists.
The Joburg Lions came unstuck 56-14 at Emirates Airline Park in the opening match of the 2021 tour, the B&I Lions employing an approach built more on running rugby and quick ball. It resulted in the visitors scoring eight tries to two, and set down an impressive marker for the rest of the tour.
But the Joburg Lions coach believes that it revealed a degree of insight into how the more illustrious Lions can and will play in the future, and the possibility for the Sharks, Bulls, SA 'A', the Stormers and Springboks to glean more information through analysis and combat any game plan they cook up.
Said Van Rooyen after the defeat: "It's another 80 minutes that Sean (Everitt), Jake (White) and Dobbo (John Dobson) can analyse them with.
"They showed a different picture (on Saturday), then what we saw against Japan," he continued. "The more footage you can get of them, the more you can expect it. There are a lot of lessons they can learn from (Saturday).“
Van Rooyen was also not shy of pointing out the areas where he believed the Boks should target the tourists.
"For Jacques (Nienaber) and them," he said, "as we saw on Friday night (against Georgia), the Boks have the ability to dominate the set-piece and that will go a long distance against the Lions. "I think other teams, the international teams, underestimate the amount of pressure the Boks' defence can put you under. Like the Boks showed Friday, they have the ability to take you wide and go score."
The Joburgers were guilty on Saturday of defensive frailties and also not taking their chances. The manner in which the tourists went about their business took their opposition by surprise.
It was yet another lesson for Van Rooyen and his charges, and one that the next team they play - the Sharks on Wednesday also at the Park - must be wary of. The B&I Lions took advantage of their hosts poor defence at the line-out, especially, with variations on the throw-ins over the top, a play that Van Rooyen admitted caused them problems.
"It looked like and felt like their speed to set, especially from the lineout, caught us off-side," said Van Rooyen.
"It is a big lesson learnt for us. It is not necessarily that they run quicker, but they are getting there quicker to play and kind of catch you off-guard, and they caught us off-guard two, or three times there. They gave us a bit of a different picture defensively tonight than what we saw against Japan.
"They were relatively soft against Japan in their line speed but obviously they did bring line speed (on Saturday). The decision making at ruck-time allows them to either slow your ball down or get numbers on their feet with good line-speed and with good physicality. I also think the attack, their ability to get into space and where they identify space, was good.
"That is probably the biggest difference between Test rugby and where we are currently - it's the speed of execution and decision-making," he concluded.