No red let­ter day as the Li­ons lose Marx

Sunday Times - - Sport Rugby - By LIAM DEL CARME

● It was per­haps just a tad ironic that Mal­colm Marx’s dura­bil­ity was brought into ques­tion on the day mark­ing name­sake, and fel­low cel­e­brated Red, Karl’s birth date 200 years ago.

The groin in­jury Marx suf­fered was part of a Su­per Rugby dou­ble whammy for the Li­ons in Welling­ton yes­ter­day as they slipped to a 28-19 de­feat against the Hur­ri­canes.

Marx will re­turn to South Africa to­mor­row and will un­dergo a scan which will shed light on the sever­ity of the in­jury.

While the Li­ons will hold their breath the in­jury is not se­ri­ous, Spring­bok coach Rassie Eras­mus will also be on ten­ter­hooks that the knock will not keep Marx out of next month’s en­gage­ments against Wales and Eng­land.

The Boks play Wales at the start of next month in Wash­ing­ton, an as­sign­ment Marx is likely to miss if it places doubt on his abil­ity to front up for the more press­ing three-test se­ries against Eng­land.

“It was a big set­back for us los­ing the South African player of the year so early,” ac­knowl­edged Li­ons coach Swys de Bruin. “He will do all his scans in Joburg, that’s how the doc­tor prefers it.”

The in­jury comes as a huge blow for a player who has con­tin­ued his barn­storm­ing form of last sea­son. Marx has tow­ered head and shoul­ders above his team­mates this sea­son.

They have un­earthed a dy­namic loose

When he de­parted the field yes­ter­day his ab­sence was keenly felt. His re­place­ment, Rob­bie Coet­zee, ad­mit­tedly in blus­tery con­di­tions, strug­gled to con­sis­tently find his jumpers. Equally, Marx was missed in bash­ing away at the gain­line and ex­act­ing steals at the ruck.

For­tu­nately for the Li­ons, they have un­earthed a dy­namic loose for­ward in Mar­nus Schoe­man who punches well above his weight at the break­down.

De­spite be­ing well off the pace, the Li­ons went into the break just seven points adrift.

Ear­lier, poor mark­ing from Ruan Com­brinck on Ben Lam al­lowed the Hur­ri­canes left wing the first of his three tries.

To com­pound mat­ters the vis­i­tors’ li­ne­out was a mess, but the Li­ons de­serve credit for hang­ing tough when the hosts threat­ened to run amok.

At 28-7, the Li­ons looked like drop­ping their bun­dle, but their for­tunes changed once they turned to their bench. It was in the scrum where their game got the most trac­tion as props Ruan Dreyer and Jo­hannes Jonker put the squeeze on the Hur­ri­canes. Dreyer, who packed down at loose­head, was par­tic­u­larly force­ful.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed in the de­feat, but I can’t judge the guys on ef­fort,” said De Bruin. “We showed a lot more ef­fort than against the Reds. This was against a strong team.

“We had op­por­tu­ni­ties we didn’t con­vert. We’ll keep on fight­ing and we’ll keep on work­ing hard. We’ll see if we can end this tour on a high [against the High­landers],” said De Bruin.

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