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Lions skinned the Bears

January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Za vashe zdorovie!

A small crowd of about 4500 hard-core Lions supporters braved the wet and cold of a Joburg night to see the Lions beat the Russian Bears by 51-13. Even though the rain probably kept some supporters away the attendance, even with the wet conditions, was disappointing.

While a win was always expected it was more important for the young and inexperienced Lions squad to settle down as a team and for the new combinations to gel.

Shaking off the wet weather and off-season rustiness the Lions had ample opportunity to express themselves and to run the ball while the 11 newscomers to team contributed handsomely to the scoreline with tries by Warwick Tecklenburg, Marnitz Boshoff, Ruan Nel and Lionel Cronje and Marnitz Boshoff converting most of their kicks.

If the Russians expected the “traditional South African rugby” as played by the Boks they were quickly disabused. While they focused on trying to play a forwards based game the Russians had no answer for the running rugby of the Lions, which the Lions rookies took to like ducks to water (sic). The Lions continued their scrummaging prowess of last year and dominated the set pieces.

The detractors are already making noises about the fact that it was “only the Russians” but it was important for the Lions to get their Wooden Spoon Knock Outs Preparation Programme (aka the Lions Challenge) off to a good start before tackling more serious competition. The Lions have a long season ahead to build and develop a team in preparation for the knock out matches at the end of July. One can focus on the negatives (small crowd, only Russia) or one can focus on the positives and look to the future – new & young players blooded, combinations that worked, etc.

While it was probably not quite PC for the Russians to present the Lions with a post-match bear skin gift we thank the Russians for coming to Joburg. Hopefully the matches they played here will help them in their Nations Cup campaign and help them to qualify for the next RWC.

Spasibo and Udachi!

The next few games (26-Jan-13 vs Cheetahs @ Ellis Park, 2-Feb-13 vs Bulls @ Orlando Stadium, 9-Feb-13 vs Kings @ Ellis Park) will probably have better crowds but I hope that the numbers for the other matches will grow. Unfortunately Ellis Park is always going to look empty, even with crowds of 15-20k, which are what I would hope for in future games.

Talking about future games, I see the Lions vs Bulls game on 2 February at Orlando Stadium is being promoted as the Gauteng Sports Challenge.

The programme starts off the a game between Pretoria Police and Pirates. No, it’s not the Bucs following Amakhosi into rugby, as I thought at first, but the Pirates Rugby Club.

This is followed by a dance off between the Felions and the Bulls Babes before the Golden Lions tackle the Bulls, but more about that at a later date.

Next up is the game against the Cheetahs on Saturday, 26 January, at Ellis Park.

4 responses to Lions skinned the Bears

  1. I wouldnt say it was an easy skinning. The Lions had to sweat each of their tries through. Considering the Bears their outline was a soft spot, as well as they have lost attention a couple of times, spread over the field and payed a price of giving away a couple of easy tries which would have never had a place if the Russians showed a bit more concentration. Redcarding was a bitter disappointment and could have been substituted with a warning or a yellow card in the worst case. Otherwise i have enjoyed the game despite of irritating rain and the fact i’ve forgotten my glasses at home and more than likely missed a good couple of crucial moments. Russia has a long way to go, mark my words it will take them only 5-6 years to be on a par with players like France or Argentina and from then its no turning back. Considering the Lions i wish them only the best in their domestic matches as well as visits overseas and let the seemingly easy win over the bears not to make them lose their grip while awaiting to meet much stronger and experienced contestants.

    • A team like Russia, with limited playing and practice opportunities during their winter months, need to have tours like this to improve. Seems like rugby is a growing sport at school level there too, which is great. Hopefully this will become an annual trip.

  2. It was a good match but Russia was never going to pose a threat, Cheetahs will give them a run for there money next week

    • As I said, this Lions side is essentially a Vodacom Cup level side. Depending on how the Cheetahs approach the match, which is a practice match for them, I don’t see the Lions beating them.

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