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VIDEO: 'Cherry on top' for Lions may have Green and Gold tinge

The Lions came within moments of a famous win over the Stormers and a place in the United Rugby Championship play-offs, only for it to be snatched cruelly from their grasps.

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However, the Johannesburg-based outfit is a team on the rise and may get their reward with some Springbok selections soon.

The Stormers ultimately triumphed 29-24, after the Lions held the lead on four occasions – holding a 24-22advantage going into the final five minutes.

However, their dreams were shattered when Stormers replacement lock Adre Smith claimed the match-winning score just four minutes from time.

The Lions then sat and watched agonisingly as the Ospreys pipped them into eighth place with a bonus-point win over Cardiff.

With six losing bonus points, it means the Lions were within a converted try of half-a-dozen additional victories to go with the nine they did get.

“It was a season of almost there and near misses,” coach Ivan van Rooyen told @rugby365com.

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“It feels like that today [Saturday],” he said of their 24-29 loss in Cape Town at the weekend.

“I am immensely proud of the effort, proud of the fight.

“We are really growing a lot as a team and not far from going through [to the play-offs.”

The Lions also suffered a massive setback when star playmaker Sanele Nohamba was knocked out cold by a head-high shot from Stormers wing Angelo Davids in the 48th minute – earning the tackling player a red card.

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Nohamba was ‘awake’ after the match, but struggling with the aftereffects of concussion.

“He is very confused,” Van Rooyen said when asked about the utility back.

Turning to the yellow card of replacement Marius Louw, when he shoved Davids in the wake of his headshot on Nohamba, the coach admitted the ‘reactive’ behaviour was costly.

“Our discipline could have been better,” he added.

(WATCH as Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen chats about his team’s season and the possibility of some new Springboks….)

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While they missed out on the play-offs, the Lions may well be able to list several new Springboks on their roster later this month.

Six Ellis Park-based players were invited to Springbok alignment camps this year – Ruan Venter, Sharks-bound Jordan Hendrikse, Quan Horn, Sanele Nohamba, MornĂ© van den Berg and Henco van Wyk all getting their first taste of the Green and Gold set-up.

Van Rooyen quipped that 40-year-old Willem Alberts may even get a Bok call-up.

However, he was more serious about the youngsters they have brought through the system in the last couple of years.

“It will mean everything, for us as a group,” he said.

“We knew that two to three years ago we had to reset.

“In that process, there was a lot of ups and downs.

“The last six to eight weeks we played well.

“[The games against] Glasgow, Leinster, Cardiff and even the Stormers, we felt we were there and giving ourselves opportunities to win.

“It will be huge, knowing could have four to six Springboks in the next 12 to 16 months.

“We know where we are as a group.

“If we get it [new Springboks] it will be the cherry on top of our season.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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