CAPE TOWN – Lions boss Swys de Bruin gave his players only a “pass” mark yesterday after they beat the Sharks 19-14 in a pre-season friendly during the SuperHero double-header at the Cape Town Stadium.
The Lions outscored the Sharks three tries to two in a dominant performance.
De Bruin’s men were the better team in the set-pieces as well as in attack and defence, even though they never got out of second gear.
Afterwards De Bruin said he was pleased, but far from satisfied his team are ready for the challenge the Jaguares will pose in their first outing in Buenos Aires in two weeks’ time.
“I’m relieved there were no injuries, so in that regard, we have been blessed,” said De Bruin.
“And in slippery conditions, I’ll give the guys a pass, but not a good pass. I’m happy with the win, but it means nothing at this stage – there were no points on offer.”
One of the Lions’ key men, captain Warren Whiteley, got through his time on the field unscathed, something that will be a relief to him and the coaching team as he’s struggled with a few calf issues in recent times.
His performance at No 8 was one of the best on the day, and he certainly looked to be sharp and on top of his game.
Also impressive was flyhalf Elton Jantjies, whose box of tricks and clever kicks had the Sharks players bamboozled at times, while Malcolm Marx, Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith and rookies Hacjivah Dayimani and Carlu Sadie all looked ready for Super Rugby action.
Whiteley, though pleased with the outing, said his side still had much to work on before they could head to Argentina a confident lot.
“It was a stop-start game and I felt we were a bit slow at times, just didn’t get going properly,” he said.
“We also weren’t able to capitalise on the numerous chances we created – we had so much possession, especially in the first half. Our disciple cost us, and we turned over a bit of ball, too.”
One area De Bruin and Co have targeted for improvement in 2019 is the defence, and already yesterday they made life on attack for the Sharks extremely difficult.
The Lions were up in their faces and forced them to rush passes, and ultimately only conceded two tries – one an intercept after a loose pass by the Lions, and the other from close quarters by Akker van der Merwe.
The first victory on #SuperHeroSunday went the way of the @LionsRugbyCo in their Spider-Man kit, by 19-14 over @TheSharksZA in their Black Panther jerseys, in front of a brilliant crowd here at Cape Town Stadium. @DStv @SuperSportTV @VodacomRugga pic.twitter.com/VmemvRzDmr— South African Rugby (@Springboks) February 3, 2019
For the Lions, Marx, Courtnall Skosan and Sylvian Mahuza crossed the whitewash.
The Lions will spend the next 10 days tweaking their game before heading to Argentina next Wednesday.
“We need to get some intensity into our game, and then we’ll be okay for the Jaguares,” said Whiteley.
South African Vodacom #SuperRugby players will be #TacklingCancer this season. For every tackle made by a South African player during Vodacom #SuperRugby 2019, @Vodacom and @SuperSportTV will together donate R100 to @CHOCfoundation pic.twitter.com/0djvhIZdZ3— South African Rugby (@Springboks) February 4, 2019