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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)

5 responses to Lions vs Kings – the jury is still out

  1. Actually felt sorry for the Kings (players only, management se moer) on Saturday. They have been exposed on their weaknesses by a Lions outfit even without their stars, and no amount of Sykes and Catrakillis can fix it coming up against the other super14. They must only focus on defense just to save face this season. Sad to see actually.

  2. In the end I came close to doing a Hulk impersonation in my living room, but the Lions just managed to save some blushes (and my tv+ furniture).

    I think our boys were very lack on defense. When they scored their opening try it just seemed like the Lions defenders were all jogging back into place at a leisurely pace. And the 2 tries their scrummy scored were opportunistic and bad defence from the Lions. So in the end we should’ve beaten them by a much larger margin. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve…

    Now we wait and see whats going to happen to the queens. They’re either going to get smashed each game, get a few injured players and arrive at the playoffs in an even worse state than now. OR, they’re going to play ok, gain some confidence and build a decent side for the time of the play-offs. That scenario makes me nervous..

  3. The big thing for the Lions is to keep playing their good players, the Kings will only get better at set pieces as the season goes, and they have the knack of picking the game up in the last minute. The weaker Currie Cup Kings side got within 2 points of the Cheetahs in one of the two playoffs… looking at the record it may be better for the Lions if they play the Cheetahs, rather then a Kings side with 3 overseas players and four new domestic players?

    • That playoff you are referring to was when the Cheetahs had 10 first choice players out with injury! It was also wet thus we know that rain is a leveller.

      In the end the Cheetahs won that game with more than 7points. So I doubt you can say that!

      If the Cheetahs has Juan, Willie, the Goose, Rhule etc on form your theory might be proven horribly wrong!

    • Injuries to key players, on both sides, will impact of the games. For the Lions it will also depend on how their loan players integrate with the team in the two weeks before the play-offs. But I would definitely rather play the Kings than the Cheetahs in the play-offs.

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