JOHANNESBURG – Lions stand-in captain Malcolm Marx has expressed his disappointment at the fact the Sunwolves will be axed from Super Rugby from the 2021 competition.
Marx was speaking moments after his team had registered a hard-fought, but deserved, round six win against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
The world was informed on Friday that Super Rugby organisers, Sanzaar, had decided to chop the Sunwolves from the competition following next year’s event, and revert to a 14-team, round-robin competition.
“It’s sad that the Sunwolves will be leaving the competition. They play an exciting brand of rugby and if you look at where they are now compared to where they were when they started out, I believe they’ve grown a lot,” said Marx after his team’s six tries to three 37-24 win on Saturday.
“They’re a difficult team to play against and preparing for them is tough.
“It’s organised chaos playing against them, because you just don’t know what’s going to come from then ... whether they’re going to run or kick. You’ve got to be switched on for 85 minutes when you play against them,” said Marx.
The Sunwolves went into Saturday’s match on the back of an away win against the Chiefs in Hamilton and a few close calls against some other teams, like the Reds and Waratahs, but were out-gunned by the Lions.
Swys de Bruin’s team dominated most departments and while they kept things tight in a forgettable first half, opened up their game in the second 40 minutes to blow the Sunwolves away.
“It’s so hot and humid here (in Singapore) that you don’t always want to have the ball and make all the yards,” said De Bruin. “I thought Malcolm (Marx) and Elton (Jantjies) ensured the guys stuck to the plan.
“We’re a team that wants to score tries, but sometimes you have to change things and keep it tight and focus on the set-pieces and play the territory game. We did that in the first half, and allowed the Sunwolves to have the ball.
“We knew we would be able to feed off the mistakes of the opposition and in the end we scored six tries.”
De Bruin said the introduction of his bench players, most notably specialist loose-forwards James Venter and Hacjivah Dayimani, and outside back Aphiwe Dyantyi, had worked a treat in the hot and humid conditions.
“We knew the heat would be terrible, and that’s why we started with two locks (Stephan Lewies and Ruan Vermaak) at loose forward,” said De Bruin. “But when the two young loosies (Hacjivan Dayimani and James Venter) came on (in the second half) they made a difference. It was the right time ... but by then our tight-five, with our captain leading the way, had laid the platform.”
After Marx had scored two driving maul tries in the first half, the four second half tries came from Nic Groom, Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Dayimani.
After six matches played the Lions have won four and will now enjoy a bye week before returning to action on April 5, when they host the Sharks in Joburg.
They will hope to welcome back from injury Cyle Brink for that match and then also hope to include him in the squad for the team’s three-week tour of New Zealand after that.@jacq_west