JOHANNESBURG - The Lions know they didn’t tick every box against the Brumbies on Saturday, but they still scored six tries and won, fairly comfortably, in the end. And, that’s all that matters, according to coach Swys de Bruin.
“It’s a tough competition ... we’ve all seen how the teams beat one another. Things aren’t just going to happen every time, you’re not going to run through teams all the time, and score tries and give high-fives,” he said after the 42-24 victory at Ellis Park.
“We scored six tries and we’re still top of the SA Conference ... and we’re very happy about that.”
And, De Bruin is spot on. His side may not be sweeping all-comers aside like they did last year - when they finished top of the pile - but they’re getting the business done, and right now enjoy a seven-point lead atop the SA conference table. The Lions have 36 points, while the five-wins-in-a-row Jaguares have 29 points.
But the Lions know if they keep on scoring tries - one of their main goals every time they go out onto the field - they’re going to win more often than they lose. And, boy, are they scoring tries.
They were pretty poor and error-ridden in most areas against the Brumbies on Saturday, with the back division especially disappointing in the way they attacked the gain-line, yet De Bruin’s men still crossed the whitewash on six occasions. Three of those tries came via the driving maul.
“It was a gamble to play with a new midfield (Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Aphiwe Dyantyi), but it was a forced move because Lionel (Mapoe) and Harold (Vorster) were out," De Bruin said.
"But we know if it doesn’t work with the backs, we can change and play with the forwards. We scored three great maul tries and knew we had them under the pump there, so we kept on. Well done to them, and coach Philip Lemmer.”
The Lions are not concerned how the tries come - via the backs or the forwards, as long as they come. And, so far they’ve dotted down 64 times in 13 games; that’s on average 4.9 per game.
De Bruin and Co though fully realise they have to tighten up their game, especially with three big derbies coming up. They play the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend, before the June break and then return afterwards for clashes with the Sharks and Bulls.
Franco Mostert said there was a lot to do before they could travel to Cape Town and be ready for the Stormers, who’re coming off a shock loss to the Sunwolves. “We’ll go back to the training ground and work on the things that didn’t come off. We have to reset, and fix a lot of things.”
The Lions will be desperate to keep their long-running record against local opposition intact when they travel to the Cape this week and the good news is there are no new injury concerns in the camp. And Mapoe and Vorster could be cleared to play after missing out at the weekend, while all South African fans will be hoping Warren Whiteley gets the all-clear to return to the playing field, too.