Marius Louw counting on ‘unexplainable energy’ to fuel Lions

Lions players celebrate a win in the United Rugby Championship

Lions players celebrate a win in the United Rugby Championship. Photo: Steve Haag Sports/INPHO/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Published Jan 24, 2024


How does a team go from winning five matches in a row to losing twice on consecutive weekends?

That is what Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen and captain Marius Louw are trying to figure out, as they won’t want to make it the wrong kind of hat-trick in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship showdown with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld (3pm kick-off).

The Lions had gone on a five-match winning run from November 25, when they thrashed Zebre 61-19 at Ellis Park, which was followed by wins over the Dragons at home (49-24), Perpignan in France (28-12), Newcastle in Johannesburg (35-13) and the Sharks in Durban (20-18).

But then a second-string side went down 13-3 to Montpellier in France, while a full-strength line-up threw away a sizeable 11-point lead to lose 38-28 to the Ospreys at Ellis Park last weekend.

“We were a little bit disappointed with our performance over the weekend,” inside centre Louw said on Tuesday.

“We had some good (22m) entries and we didn’t execute by scoring tries. Obviously, (there were) a few disallowed tries, and our discipline wasn’t good enough. So, that’s definitely something we’ll be looking at.

“It’s very uncharacteristic of us, especially in the last 10 minutes, to let go like that. So, it was definitely a discussion point going into this week, so we will definitely be looking at that.”

The Bulls will be hard to stop at Loftus, having beaten Bordeaux 46-40 last weekend and Bristol 31-17 a week earlier in England.

Jake White’s side have played some thrilling rugby this season, and have an opportunity to move into the playoff spots on the URC log with a victory on Saturday.

But the Lions, who are currently 11th in the standings, can catapult themselves into fourth position themselves with a bonus-point triumph.

And the last time these teams met, the Johannesburg franchise emerged 29-25 victors at Loftus in March last year, so they won’t be overawed by driving down the N1 to take on a Bulls team that will be strengthened by the return of Springboks Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Marco van Staden.

“Over the past few years the Lions struggled to win against South African teams,” Louw said.

“But I think we’ve got that monkey off our backs. Now it’s just building and sticking to the processes, and getting a good performance in before going on a little break.

“It just comes down to sticking to our processes. We just want to really make sure that we do what we can.

“We can’t control what the Bulls are going to bring. They have played a lot of good rugby over the past few weeks, especially at home. We know how dangerous they are – very physical, and they spread the ball wide with their backs.

“Our intent and how we do things is what we can control, and that’s the way we are going to look at it. I think you try your best every week.

“Sometimes you have that little bit of unexplainable energy that just comes across. Everyone takes pride in the union, and it’s a great opportunity for people to grow and get exposure.”


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