Lions captain Warren Whiteley hailed his team’s strong defence as the Joburg-side made history on Saturday when they registered a first win against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
The Lions, who’d lost all three previous matches in the Argentine capital, won 25-16 to kick off their 2019 Super Rugby campaign on a high note.
Flank Marnus Schoeman was the big star for the Lions, scoring all three tries, with Elton Jantjies slotting two penalties and two conversions. The Jaguares, surprise quarter-finalists last year, managed to score just one try.
“We know the Jaguares are dangerous with quick, front foot ball, and they like to hang onto the ball for long periods, taking it through several phases,” said Whiteley afterwards.
“We got a bit lucky at times there on our tryline (especially in the second half), but we made the turnovers when we had to and defended very well. This was our best performance by far over here and I’m grateful for the attitude and resilience shown by the guys.”
Coach Swys de Bruin said he hadn’t seen such a comprehensive defensive effort for some time. “We’re blessed that we’ve made history here, winning for the first time in Buenos Aires. That ball was so slippery and wet and I knew it would take a big defensive effort ... the guys tackled like never before. I’m so proud of them.”
According to the stats from the game, the Lions made 152 tackles to the Jaguares’ 14, while the visitors made 14 breakdown turnovers to the home team’s nine.
“I’m happy about the performance,” said Whiteley. “The way the scrums went (with rookie Carlu Sadie at tighthead prop) was pleasing, we did well at the breakdowns and the defence was good. The lineouts weren’t so great, but we’ll work on them.”
The Lions now have something to measure themselves against and will be satisfied they were able to kick off their competition with a crucial, and morale-boosting win, at a venure where they’d never won before. They’ll also be full of confidence going down to Cape Town this week to take on a Stormers team that appears to be in some disarray.