Ivan Van Rooyen (coach) of the Lions during the Xerox Golden Lions team announcement at Emirates Airline Park on July 30, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IMAGES
Ivan Van Rooyen (coach) of the Lions during the Xerox Golden Lions team announcement at Emirates Airline Park on July 30, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IMAGES

With two defeats from their first three Super Rugby games‚ the Lions will go into their bye week with much to ponder. Their latest setback arrived in the form of a heartbreaking 33-30 defeat to the Stormers at Ellis Park but they will take comfort from that loss.

Twice the Lions had to pick themselves up from the canvas against the much-fancied Stormers and even played themselves into a position to snatch an unlikely victory when they turned a 15-26 deficit into a 30-26 lead with three minutes to go. But a Ruhan Nel try after the hooter jolted them back to reality.

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen said his players were gutted. “So close‚ yet so far‚” he said of the narrow defeat. “It was courageous how the guys fought back. I’m proud of them and the effort. But that’s rugby and the small margin‚ which is the difference between winning and losing.

“That said‚ we made a few errors and we have lots of work to do before our next game. Luckily we have a bye next week.

“The guys are gutted‚ but the fire is burning inside‚ and it can only get brighter ... and that’s encouraging for us.”

Though victory was snatched from the Lions at the death‚ it was their sins earlier in the game that perhaps provided the Stormers with the building blocks to the win. Again the Lions’ scrum was stuck in reverse‚ their lineouts were wonky and the Stormers made crucial turnovers at the breakdown.

Van Rooyen’s players will have Monday and Tuesday to lick their wounds before reassembling in preparation for their tour Down Under. Their work in the set pieces will require revision this week before they fly out to Sydney on Saturday.

The Lions play the Waratahs on Friday week‚ before going on to Melbourne‚ Auckland and Dunedin.

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