Lions coach Van Rooyen laments team’s loss of concentration
Mentor says despite the pain of losing, they are proud of the character shown by the players
The Lions fell short again as they picked up another losing bonus point in Super Rugby Unlocked against the Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.
This time they lost 30-25, and allowed the men from Tshwane to cement their place at the top of the table.
The recurring theme has left the Lions frustrated‚ even if progress was made along the way. “As much as it hurts to lose‚ we are proud of the character the guys displayed. In all the hurt there are quite a few positives‚” coach Ivan van Rooyen said.
His team started slowly, but began bossing the Bulls in the second quarter of the game. After the break, however, they could not maintain that momentum.
“There were one or two moments where our decision-making wasn’t ideal‚” the coach noted. “The closer it comes to an 80-minute game the result will go our way. There are 10 or 15 minutes where we lose concentration.”
Although the Lions forwards gave a decent account of themselves‚ the Bulls’ pack eventually got the upper hand. Their experience and sheer brawn wore down the Lions.
Van Rooyen believes his team could have stuck to their script a bit better. “There were one or two system errors that proved expensive. Lineout defence — we went out of system. And defensive scrum — we went out of system slightly. If we don’t learn from that, we will have to be honest and hard.
“We are a relatively young pack and the guys are getting better every week. They showed that there is growth. Our scrum and maul worked well. It is a bit of inconsistency. I know and I believe our 80-minute performance is around the corner‚” Van Rooyen said.
Captain Elton Jantjies also gave his forwards the thumbs up. “I feel the pack stood up nicely. It is one of our strengths. It was just some soft moments. I said before the game that there will be a lot of learning. We learnt that we are good enough but we need to do better in the small moment‚” Jantjies said.
The Lions produced one of the brighter moments of the match when Wandisile Simelane waltzed his way past four Bulls defenders to score and drag them back into the contest. The try came on the back of a superb performance a week earlier against Griquas.
“Hats off to Wandi and the support players around him because that enabled him to have a one-on-one‚” Jantjies said.
The Bulls will be relieved that they have negotiated this hurdle‚ given the disruptions they had to contend with.
“This is not an excuse but there were a lot of disruptions as well‚” Bulls coach Jake White said. “We lost a hooker on Thursday and a flanker in the first five minutes of the game. We lost both props and we asked a lot of the bench.”
White said it was pleasing that the young players who had not spent much time together got the job done. “Sometimes you have to win games like that ugly.”
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