Lions’ United Rugby Championship performance against Scarlets ’wasn’t great’
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Durban – The Lions’ brave new dawn in Parma last week has proved to be a false one after they perished miserably in Llanelli, invoking the old ghosts of the Currie Cup when they could win just two of 10 games.
In losing 36-13 to the Scarlets on Friday night — fresh from having beaten Zebre 38-26 — the Lions indeed sunk back into that familiar territory of playing in fits and starts, of individuals having the odd twinkle-toed attack but then good work being undone by the most basic of errors be it lineout malfunctions, silly penalties or falling asleep on defence...
There was a moment around the three-quarter mark of the game that summed it up. The Lions were in the Scarlets’ 22, pressing for a try when they gave away a penalty after a lapse in concentration. The players turned their backs, the Scarlets took a quick tap and 80m later they had scored between the posts.
In that moment the Lions were dozy, the Scarlets switched on and quick-witted.
Ivan van Rooyen, the Lions coach, was understandably a picture of exasperation after the game.
“That was not great at all,” he said with measured understatement. “We were not consistent in terms of what we want to achieve, and we were not patient with our game plan, especially the kicking game and that meant where we should have been building pressure, we ended up having pressure put on us.
“When we were patient in our kicking game we got reward. And then there were the individual errors that kept trapping us in our half,” Van Rooyen continued.
“We have to look after the ball better — we are playing a very attacking side in the Glasgow Warriors this week so we have to be much sharper in every aspect of the game.”
To add injury to insult, the Lions are sweating over the fitness of Jordan Hendrikse, who is one of their better players. The flyhalf came off with an ankle injury and might not be able to play against Glasgow.
“We will know more about Jordan’s ankle after 48hours and then we can make a call but it is a concern,” the coach said. “A problem is that we can’t just fly in a replacement — a newcomer has to isolate for 10 days, so if we do need a replacement we have to call him up asap (so he would be available in time for the fourth and final tour game).”
Van Rooyen said there is also a worry over prop Ruan Dreyer, who suffered an upper arm injury.