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VIDEO: Lions go off script to thrive in the face of adversity

REACTION: Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen praised his team for not hitting the panic button during their United Rugby Championship Round 17 clash against Glasgow Warriors at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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The Johannesburg team kept their play-off hopes alive with a resounding 44-21 win despite being reduced to 14 men for 54 minutes and 13 men for another 10 minutes.

Ruan Venter was slapped with a yellow card in the 13th minute – after coming on as a replacement – when he pushed an opponent’s head into the ground.

In the 36th minute, he was issued a straight red card for making direct contact with an opponent’s head in a tackle.

Two minutes later the hosts were down to 13 men – No.8 Francke Horn yellow-carded for a cynical foul – slapping the ball away.

The Lions also lost their captain and centre Marius Louw before the match due to a knee injury with Jordan Hendrikse taking over the No.12 jersey.

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“His [Louw’s] knee swelled up on Wednesday and we tried to get him ready for the game.

“We wanted him to play but we knew that we had a good plan with Willem [Alberts as captain] and you can’t ask for any better than that.

“We knew leadership-wise we were good there.

“Jordan has probably been training 60 to 70 percent at No.12 in the last month anyway.

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“We’ve used him the majority of the time in that role, so whether it’s Sanele [Nohamba], Gianni [Lombard] or Kade [Wolhuter], we’ve got No.10s that can run in there.

“Jordan is comfortable at No.10, but the role we wanted to use him in was that No.10-No.12 channel.

“He has been training really well and it showed tonight [Saturday].

“He was really good.”

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Despite being a man down the Lions scored four tries in a 10-minute blitz in the second half which took the game away from the Warriors.

“They [Glasgow] are a class outfit,” said Van Rooyen.

“We knew that discipline was one of our focus points during the week.

“If you are going to give them multiple entries in your 22 with their maul and line-out, you are really going to be under pressure.

“I don’t want to elaborate on the red card, but what I can say is that when our backs are against the wall, we do free up a little bit mentally and we just focus and stick to the process and plan.

“It was great character from the guys. We also got lucky, to be honest.

“We held them up two or three times over the tryline and they kicked it dead once or twice.

“At half-time, we felt that we were really in this and when we stuck to the plan, we felt that it was working and we were putting them under pressure.

“It was great character, great fight and great discipline to stick to what we want to do.”

By Annemie Bester and Warren Fortune

@rugby365com

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