AUDIO: Lions happy with 'phenomenal' youngsters
REACTION: The Lions head coach Swys de Bruin’s faith in his new generation of talent has certainly been rewarded.
The Johannesburg-based franchise – featuring a host of emerging talent – recorded a 47-39 win over the Jaguares on Saturday.
The Lions ran in seven tries in the victory, while the Jaguares found the tryline six times, three of which were scored in the final ten minutes of the game.
The hosts headed into the match under loads of pressure following their defeats to the Stormers and Bulls.
Adding additional pressure, was head coach Swys de Bruin’s decision to opt for youth instead of experience.
The coach added emerging stars like Wandisile Simelane, Ruan Vermaak and Vincent Tshituka to the starting XV, while prop Nathan McBeth and utility back Gianni Lombard were on the bench.
De Bruin was certainly not left disappointed with his youngsters’ display – in particular, Simelane, who scored one try and made 14 carries.
While, blindside flank Tshituka, lock Vermaak and Lombard all flourished in their respective roles.
“I’m very thankful for the win and I’m glad for the youngsters that came through,” De Bruin told reporters after the win at Ellis Park.
“The Jaguares had more or less 22 internationals and to score seven tries against them is indeed phenomenal.
“Nathan Mcbeth [prop] on the loosehead was brilliant when he came on, while Wandi was just as impressive…the way Gianni [Lombard] tackled with guts, it was really fantastic for me to see.
“Not to mention Vincent [Tshituka] he was almost my man of the match, his workrate was unreal – certainly a youngster who put his hand up,”
Despite the near-perfect performance, the Lions’ defence were in shambles in closing minutes of the match.
Destined for the try-scoring bonus point win with a 47-20 lead the Johannesburg franchise conceded three tries in the final ten minutes – a factor which left Du Bruin frustrated.
“Definitely disappointed that we [Lions] let the bonus-point slip,” Du Bruin revealed, adding: “We had the bonus-point in the bag and leaked three tries, certainly not happy with that.
“However, I need to focus on the positive, and scoring seven tries is certainly one of those,”
The Lions’ next Super Rugby match is against the unbeaten Melbourne Rebels at Ellis Park Stadium.
By Josh Isaacson