Concern as Lions are caught in downward spiral
REACTION: The Lions are in desperate need of overturning their fortunes after another difficult outing in Europe.
The Lions suffered their first European Challenge Cup defeat, beaten 7-17 by Stade Francais at Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday.
The result spells major troubling signs for the Lions, who were handed their fourth consecutive defeat.
The Lions had a 7-0 lead at the break, however, a second-half implosion ended their hopes of a famous win against Stade Francais.
They struggled with their discipline and late in the game, they were down to 13 players due to yellow cards to Gianni Lombard and JP Smith, while Henco van Wyk also got his marching orders after 70 minutes on the clock.
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“Looking at our first half we managed to dominate the set-pieces and the collisions,” Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen told reporters after the match.
“We probably left three tries out there in the first half which eventually would have changed the outcome of the game.
“At one stage the penalty count was 8-1 in the first half without real action from the referee.”
Van Rooyen added: “We couldn’t manage to get out of our half against extreme wind. Either by errors or conceding a penalty. Then they got close and into our 22.
“Also conceding three yellow cards in such a short time will make it extremely tough to try and swing momentum back in your way.”
The Lions found the weather conditions extremely difficult, an issue the team has to rectify in the next fortnight in very similar conditions in Wales and Ireland.
“In cold, wet and windy conditions like we are experiencing on this tour so far, we need to capitalize on playing with the wind more and find a way to gain more territory and still create attacking opportunities against the wind,” Van Rooyen said.
“We played for too long in our 40m from our tryline in the second half.
“For the next two games, it’s important for us to grow in those areas as both games will be in similar conditions.”
The Lions will face the Dragons in the Challenge Cup this weekend, followed by a United Rugby Championship match against Connacht in Ireland.