The return of a couple of seasoned campaigners, as well as addressing some minor irritations, will ensure the Lions won’t be giving away too many ‘freebies’ in their Vodacom Super 14 encounter with the Bulls on Saturday.
Rugby 365′s Jan de Koning writes that having watched the Sharks score a couple of crucial turnover tries in their 10-25 loss to the Durban-based side at the weekend – a game in which the Lions conceded eight penalties and seven free kicks – coach Eugene Eloff is adamant there are no major issues in the side.
Even though his team had another weekend of line-out woes and their penaliseble offences were more than he would have wanted, the Lions mentor is comfortable with his team’s progress after two rounds of the competition.
This week he will be able to call on stalwarts like loose forward Ernst Joubert and lock Jannes Labuschagne – who both missed the first two rounds, Joubert with a hand injury and Labuschagne as a result of a minor surgical procedure on his knee.
However, both will be training with the team and considered for selection.
And while the Lions are also still awaiting the outcome of a disciplinary hearing involving prop Heinke van der Merwe and back Jannie Boshoff, for a dangerous tackle on Sharks centre Francois Steyn, the coach said his team was not far off the Super 14 pace.
Apart from the citing of these two players, there was also a yellow card to centre Doppies la Grange for repeated infringements – to go with the eight penalties (three at the tackle, three for offside, one at a scrum and one for discipline – with Todd Clever fell on a player after he had scored a try) and the seven free kicks (six at the tackle).
Eloff said he was not too concerned about the free kicks, and described them as “minor issues” that they are working on.
“They [the Sharks] didn’t construct much,” Eloff told rugby365.com, when asked about the team’s error rate.
“They scored two tries from our mistakes – when Doppies la Grange knocked the ball, we were looking like scoring, and they got their second try.
“That is what the Sharks do to you. If a game is unstructured and free-flowing, they will punish you. They are very good from broken play,” the Lions coach said, adding: “In general I’m happy that we contained them, especially after everybody though they would run away with it.”
He is also not too concerned about the team’s line-out troubles – which saw them lose four on their own throw and get penalised twice for skew throws. It was a vast improvement on Week One, when the Lions lost 11 on their own throw and one was skew.
“We have been working very hard on it,” Eloff told rugby365.com, when asked about the line-out issues.
“There were a couple of times [against the Sharks] when we were blown up for skew throws, which we felt weren’t skew.
“But we will pay a lot of attention to our line-outs this week,” he said, adding that any team can have hiccups like these.
“It is just about timing and a few wrong options, but it will be fixed by the weekend.”
He added that the very high humidity in Durban meant the match didn’t live up expectations, but he hoped that the conditions in Johannesburg this coming weekend would allow for a game with lots more entertainment value.Tweet