Defence, ill-discipline cost the Lions against rampant Blues
JOHANNESBURG - The Lions crashed to a fifth defeat in six matches this Super Rugby season after being completely out-played by an ever-improving Blues team in Auckland on Saturday.
Ivan van Rooyen’s Lions conceded six tries and were kept pointless in the second half as the Blues shot to the top of the points table, if possibly only temporarily, by winning 43-10 at Eden Park.
Defence was again the Lions’ biggest problem area as they slipped several tackles and too easily allowed the Blues players space and time to play their attack-minded game. They were also ill-disciplined and a late first half yellow card incurred by Ruan Vermaak turned out to be very costly.
After a fairly tight opening half hour, including the Lions playing with good intensity and aggression, which brought them a try by Dan Kriel, the Blues made the most of their visitors being reduced to playing with 14 men when Vermaak was sin-binned for being offsides and deliberately knocking the ball down.
At that stage the Blues led 15-10 after they’d scored earlier tries through Rieko Ioane and Stephen Perofeta. But when the Blues were awarded a penalty try because of Vermaak’s indiscretion on the stroke of half-time the Lions seemed to lose focus and they just about fell to pieces after that.
Within nine minutes of the resumption of play, the Blues had scored further tries by Ioane, his second, and Gerlad Cowley-Tuitou to race into a commanding 36-10 lead.
Super Rugby 2020 | Blues v Lions - Rd 7 Highlights— Super Rugby/TRC (@SuperRugby) March 14, 2020
The @BluesRugbyTeam record their fifth win of the season with a clinical 43-10 triumph over the @LionsRugbyCo in Auckland.#SuperRugby #SuperRugby25years #BLUvLIO pic.twitter.com/CAPepuFpmH
Everything the Lions did well in the opening 30 minutes - playing with real physicality, pressing hard in defence, and contesting strongly on the ground - went missing from their game, and they also started losing some lineouts, which they didn’t do in the first half.
Van Rooyen’s men also gave away several penalties as their discipline let them down and it didn’t help that they lost both Hacjivah Dayimani and Manny Rass to injuries.
The Lions never really came close to scoring a try in the second spell as the Blues’ much-improved defence in 2020 held firm. No 8 Hoskins Sotutu hammered in the final nail in the Lions’ coffin with a try on 63 minutes to seal an emphatic win for the Auckland-based team.
The defeat was the third for the Lions on tour after earlier losing to the Waratahs and Rebels. They face the Highlanders in Dunedin next Saturday before returning home.
Blues - Tries: Ioane (2), Perofeta, Penalty try, Cowley-Tuitou, Sotutu. Conversions: Black (3), Plummer. Penalty: Black
Lions - Try: Kriel. Conversion: Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies@jacq_west