Lions vs Kings – the jury is still out
February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized
In front of 19000 spectators, the biggest crowd of the Lions Challenge so far, the Lions beat the Kings 41-31.
Supporters of both teams will read into the match result whatever they want but the Lions cannot be happy with they way the lost focus in the second half after leading 27-7. Whether it was due to the Kings fighting back, the spate of replacements that were sent on or some other reason, the Lions tendency to “take a break” for about 20 minutes per game has been a worry for a long time now and on Saturday it nearly resulted in an embarrassing loss.
All credit to the Kings for fighting back and taking their chances and congratulations to the Lions for sticking it out and pulling off a win.
“What matters isn’t how well you play when you’re playing well. What matters is how well you play when you’re playing badly.” – Martina Navratilova
For the Lions the second half was a wake-up call – you cannot relax for 20 minutes in a game and expect to win the crucial games.
On the plus side, the Lions scrums, lineouts, rucks and mauls worked well and they totally outplayed the Kings in those departments but, considering the talented players in the backline, it is disturbing that they couldn’t score a single backline try.
On the negative side, letting in a spate of soft tries after doing all the hard graft and you have your opponents on the rack is inexcusable, even if a number of replacements are sent on which disturbs the flow. Replacement players should fit in to the onfield structures and not disrupt your game but enhance it. The Lions coaches will also not be happy with the number of handling errors and basic mistakes made on the day.
Would this Lions team have beaten a full strength Kings side? The point is moot, I know, but I think the Lions would still have dominated the set pieces and would, hopefully, have kept their focus better as there wouldn’t have been all the replacements to disrupt cohesion. But we’ll have to wait for July to get the answer.
The Lions have a five week break before taking on French bottom of the log club, Mont de Marsan, in March. Indications from the Lions coaching staff are that the Lions players will be used only sparingly in Vodacom Cup matches so they will remain focused on their preparation for the July knockout games.
During the next five weeks a number of injured players will get back onto the training fields and the squad, barring injuries during training, should be near full strength in time for their next match.
New injuries: Ross Cronje (broken thumb), Alwyn Hollenbach (hamstring)