'Brave' Lions looking for consistency
REACTION: The Lions are finally beginning to reap the reward for their hard work of the last six months, but the real challenge now is “consistency”.
That is the view of Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen, after his team broke their Rainbow Cup duck with a 34-33 upset of the table-topping Bulls at Ellis Park at the weekend.
The Johannesburg-based franchise looked off the pace in the early stages of the competition – as they lost 9-22 to the Bulls in week one and then suffered a 26-34 loss to the Sharks.
They started to show some promise in a heartbreaking last-minute 37-39 loss to the Stormers in Round Three.
Van Rooyen said the team will benefit greatly from finally getting a win, as the players will start to believe in their own ability.
The Lions coach spoke about the ‘fine margins’ in the game.
“The difference in the [mood in the] change room is unbelievable, but the margin is just one point [34-33],” Van Rooyen said.
“We were brave in our decision-making [against the Bulls],” he added.
He said that while the team showed growth in all departments in the last few weeks, the challenge is now to become “more consistent”.
The coach said some individuals still need to brush up on their decision-making and he does not want the players to go back into their shells.
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He wants them to continue to ‘express’ themselves.
“Some of the young players had some doubt, whether they were good enough,” he said, adding: “To be on the winning side will ensure they now start believing.
“Mentally is the one aspect in which we are growing the most at present.”
He said the team will have a break this week and then start preparing for their next match, against the Sharks – at Ellis Park on June 5.
Van Rooyen spoke about the tough lessons they learned and the chinks they needed to iron out in their armour.
He added that “mistakes” cost them dearly in the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup legs of the domestic campaign.
“At some stage, we decided to be a bit more ‘conservative’ [in our approach], because we just could not get out of our half.
“The players worked really hard to eliminate those errors and that allows us to retain the ball for longer.
“We pride ourselves in the tempo we want to play and because we are now more clinical, it allows us to apply more pressure through that aspect of our game.”