Lions coach Ivan Rooyen says his team needs to learn to string an 80-minute performance together to turn the tide in the wake of their 30-25 loss to the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday.
Before this weekend’s agonising five-point defeat against the Bulls, the Lions also narrowly lost to the Sharks and Stormers and had to settle for a share of the spoils from their called-off match against the Cheetahs.
Their only victory so far in the competition has come against Griquas, who they lashed 61-31 last week.
Speaking to media via a virtual press conference after the game, Van Rooyen explained that his players showed great character and fighting spirit, but that it isn’t enough; they have to start delivering full 80-minute performances to get better results.
‘As bad as it is to lose and as much as it hurts, we’re proud of the players’ character and the fight they showed, it was so close yet so far. Despite everything, there are a couple of positives for us,’ he said.
‘There were one or two moments when our decision-making wasn’t ideal, the positive is we can fix it, the negative is it might be recurring. The closer we can get to an 80-minute game, the results will go our way. At the moment, there are 10 to 15 minutes that we lose momentum and confidence and that’s costly.
‘There were one of two system errors on our side, that were expensive. At lineout defence and at defensive scrums we went out of system slightly. As long as we learn from that we can get past it but if we’re not gonna learn from that then we need to get real honest and real harsh.’
Van Rooyen added that he was particularly proud of how the Lions’ pack didn’t allow the Bulls forwards to bully them and dominate to the forward exchanges throughout the match and believes that show of character bodes well for their pack going forward.
‘Like I said, we’re proud of the character the guys showed, especially the forward pack. The Bulls forward pack has a good reputation and they showed why again today. They were good for 80 minutes.’
‘We’re a relatively young pack and the guys are getting better every week. Again tonight they showed that there is growth and if you take the game as a whole, our scrum and maul operated well. So a little bit of inconsistency, but as a whole we’re really excited about where this pack’s going.
‘We know and believe that our 80-minute performance is around the corner, we must just keep our heads up, keep learning and keep going forward.’
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