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Van Rooyen not happy about 'scrappy' performance

REACTION: The Lions struggled in the set-pieces and hardly managed to string more than three phases together in their 10-25 loss to the Bulls in Round 10 of the United Rugby Championship at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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That is the short explanation Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen gave at the post-match press conference.

Looking at some of the statistics from the game, it is clear the Lions had an uphill battle, especially in their set-piece performance.

“Initially we lost a bit of set-piece which couldn’t get us into our attack structure and then, with individual errors on top of that, we gave them a set-piece to attack and pin us in our own half,” Van Rooyen explained.

“We just really didn’t manage to get any momentum on attack, like consistently. That’s frustrating because we wanted to attack them.

“Under pressure, we probably went a little individualistic.

“The pressure seemed to stay on us, we didn’t really manage to apply the pressure back onto them. We also know if you kick the ball long against them, against Canan [Moodie] and Devon [Williams], they will probably punish you. Just scrappy,” Van Rooyen added.

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The backline of the Lions, unlike the previous encounter at Loftus Versfeld two weeks ago where players like Sanele Nohamba, Quan Horn and captain Marius Louw excelled, could not fire and hardly made any inroads or threatened the advantage line.

At Ellis Park on Saturday the Bulls made five linebreaks, the Lions only one. On attack the Bulls made 108 passes, the Lions 67, while the men from Johannesburg also missed a total of 27 tackles compared to the Bulls’ 15.

“I can’t remember us playing three phases, so it’s difficult to enforce any plan if you can’t get interplay. So I don’t think it is a case of copy and pasting and see what happens,” the coach offered.

“Initially we didn’t really get line-out ball like we wanted to in order to put them under pressure. And again, I don’t think we got three phases. It’s very difficult, then you get a set-piece and the game slows down again.

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“I think at some stages our defence was unbelievable and physical. Yes, we did concede four tries, but I think we did put them under pressure defensively.”

Louw also weighed in on the mountain of mistakes that were left on the field.

“I think the previous game was more physical because there weren’t so many phases. That’s from my point of view. Some of the forwards might see it differently. It’s always physical against the Bulls.

“I just think errors didn’t allow us to go there.”

Asked about the path forward as the competition just gets more tough and the Lions face a Springbok-laden Sharks team in a fortnight, Louw was adamant that the Lions need to improve at all aspects of the game.

“I don’t think it’s a trend of errors that creep in, it’s just little things every now and then. We sorted out our attack, but again, if you can’t keep the ball, if you can’t win the set-piece, you can’t get into attack, he said.

“Something we will have to look at as a backline is our ability to run, and then kick, as a unit pack our scrums and line-outs.

“Overall we will have to make sure that we get better at all aspects of our game.”

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