Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen readily admitted that his team were outplayed by the Sharks in their wet weather United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park in Durban over the past weekend.
The visitors struggled to adapt to the difficult conditions, while the home side seemed to revel in them as they romped to a 37-10 bonus point win, running in four tries to one along the way.
The Sharks kicking game was also fully on point, keeping the Lions in check throughout the match, while flyhalf Curwin Bosch put in a flawless kicking performance nailing all seven of his shots at goal.
“They were tactically a lot better than us. They overpowered the kicking game quite drastically. I think their decision making of what to kick and when to kick was sublime,” explained Van Rooyen.
“I think that was one of the reasons we spent most of the match on our own 30m, and if you are then going to give the Sharks the easy turnover, they are a quality team and they are going to punish you.”
The result brings a sudden stop to the momentum built up by the Lions after winning four matches in a row against overseas opposition on the Highveld and means they must start again as they return home for their last two home matches of the season.
The team has the coming weekend off, before hosting Connacht and Benetton on the last two weekends of April, before ending off their first campaign in the URC with an away match against the Dragons in late May.
“I don’t think this is a true reflection of where we are as a team, which is a big part of the frustration. The Sharks are more adept in these conditions. So I think us against the international opponents back home with altitude and not this kind of rain we are more adept for that,” said Van Rooyen.
“What we’ve learnt the last four weeks is that with a good kicking game and a good attack and defensive structure, we’ve got a lot better and more dynamic in how we want to play.
“So for the following two games back home obviously it is important for us to speed the game up and play an exciting dynamic brand to try and take the opposition’s legs away as quick as possible.”