Jantjies gives Lions an eight-out-of-10
REACTION: Lions captain Elton Jantjies dismissed the notion that ‘poor decision-making’ is what cost his team a win in Durban.
The Sharks held out against a willing Lions team to win 19-16 in their Round One Super Rugby Unlocked encounter at Kings Park this past Friday.
The encounter was the first competitive match in South Africa since the return from the COVID-19-enforced lockdown – if you ignore the pre-season SuperFan and Springbok trial outings.
The Lions looked scrappy against a Sharks team that got out the blocks early and raced into a 13-0 lead in the opening half-hour.
The Lions managed to level the scores up at 16-all after 70 minutes, with an improved second-half showing, but a late Curwin Bosch penalty sealed the win for the hosts.
Jantjies, the 30-year-old talisman of the Ellis Park-based franchise and likely Springbok flyhalf in the absence of injured No.10 Handre Pollard, hit the post with a kickable penalty on 77 minutes.
The skipper also made a few curious decisions, including opting for a scrum five metres from the Sharks line when a kick at goal could have earned them a draw.
However, the Lions were penalised at the post-hooter scrum, gifting the Sharks the win.
Jantjies admitted they will “learn” from the mistakes, but said that wasn’t the reason they lost this game.
“There were certain other areas in the game that we definitely need to improve on,” the skipper said.
“Obviously we’ll have a review of the collective decisions we make. ”
“If we had scored before half-time [when they were behind 3-13 down], it would’ve been a different story,” he said about a maul five metres from the Sharks line, at which the Sharks won a breakdown penalty.
“It’s just up to us to make the right decisions collectively and obviously from the management as well.”
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Jantjies felt that both sides had equal opportunities to win the game.
“We had one try and they had one try. I had a penalty that the post, which happens in rugby. I think we had one penalty where we just did not kick it out. We had other moments, such as that set-piece [scrum] we had to take responsibility for.
“Those are crucial moments, especially when you play a quality Sharks team.”
Jantjies said they remain “positive” about the direction and growth in the team.
“It is probably a seven or eight out of 10, from three out of 10 in the beginning of the season – before lockdown.
“We just have to keep on training hard and keep on sticking and believing in what we are doing, because we are definitely doing the right thing.
“We did well to finish within three points of the Sharks, who were top in Super Rugby,” he said, adding: “It shows that we’re on the right track.”