Van Rooyen: Lions need to get some mo­men­tum go­ing

Pretoria News - - THE RSPORTACEG­OER - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN jac­ques.van­der­west­

WHAT’S im­por­tant is the Lions got a win. And it came as no sur­prise after­wards when head coach Ivan van Rooyen said he was “re­lived, to be hon­est.”

For long pe­ri­ods of Satur­day’s round two Su­per Rugby match against the Reds at Ellis Park, the Lions looked like they were go­ing to buckle and hand the game to the vis­i­tors. But they hung on, scored four tries to the Reds’ two, and walked off af­ter 80 min­utes with a 27-20 win. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t very en­cour­ag­ing, but it could have been worse. It could have been a loss, and that a week af­ter the Lions copped a 38-8 beat­ing by the Jaguares and a week be­fore the Storm­ers visit Ellis Park – this week­end.

The Cape side have pro­duced some freak­ish stuff in the first two weeks of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion – keep­ing the Hur­ri­canes and Bulls point­less, in their two matches at New­lands. This week­end’s clash be­tween the Lions and Storm­ers in Jo­han­nes­burg may be a home game for Van Rooyen’s team but if the last two week­ends’ re­sults are used as a mea­sure, then it’ll be the Cape side wear­ing the favourites tag.

With four away games in Aus­trala­sia to come for the Lions af­ter this Satur­day’s match, the four points bagged from the Reds is very wel­come in­deed.

What is clear from the Lions’ first two out­ings of the year is that they are some way off what the fans and op­po­si­tion have come to ex­pect of them in re­cent times. They were well beaten in Ar­gentina in round one and on Satur­day against the Reds lost the for­ward-bat­tle – the vis­i­tors dom­i­nat­ing the scrums, where Jan­nie du Plessis was beaten up, while the li­ne­outs again looked wonky at times.

Van Rooyen also ad­mit­ted over the week­end that the Lions were bat­tling some­what with con­ti­nu­ity in their game. “We need some con­ti­nu­ity on at­tack ... the con­di­tions were wet though and the Reds are a dis­rup­tive team,” Van Rooyen said.

“But we need to get mo­men­tum go­ing; it’s maybe not enough time spent to­gether.”

But if the Lions strug­gled in the set-pieces and also on at­tack, they did show im­prove­ment in de­fence. In Buenos Aires they missed 37 tack­les; on Satur­day they missed just 12 – a much-im­proved show­ing.

Be­sides need­ing to tweak sev­eral ar­eas, Van Rooyen may also con­sider his team make-up this week.

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