Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Lions aiming to bounce back against Benetton

A loss against Benetton will dump the Lions out of the competition before the quarterfinal stage.

The Lions will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship (URC) with a much better performance when they face Benetton in the Challenge Cup last 16 in Treviso on Saturday.

With the Lions currently on a European tour, their up-and-down season has continued with the tourists putting in a brilliant performance to thump Connacht 38-14 with 14 men in Galway, before slumping to a 36-21 defeat against Ospreys in Swansea at the weekend.

They now have to try and turn things around in the Challenge Cup, as a loss against Benetton will dump them out of the competition before the quarterfinal stage.

Lions eighthman Francke Horn explained that playing in a different competition may just be the breath of fresh air the Lions need to turn around their fortunes as they look to progress further into the knockouts.

“Playing Benetton in the Challenge Cup last 16 is something new to look forward to,” Horn said.

“It’s a different competition, and it is knockout rugby, so we will just focus on ourselves. We have to be as good as we know we can be and take it from there.

“I have no doubt that the guys will get together, we will see what we did wrong (against Ospreys) and how we can take our opportunities better against Benetton. We will try to exploit that on Saturday and hopefully get the win.”

Too many errors

The Lions will, however, have to put in a much improved performance from the one they did against fellow URC playoff chasers Ospreys.

They made a host of handling errors, struggled at the breakdown and missed out on a number of chances in a match they really should have had a good chance of winning after their heroics in Galway a week earlier.

“Everybody is really disappointed. We felt like we let ourselves and the fans down after a really good performance (against Connacht) last week. It just didn’t go our way and we struggled to get a foothold in the match,” explained Horn.

“The positives that we can take out of the game was our performance in the last 15 minutes. The fightback from the guys and the impact that the bench brought was good.

“We also know that isn’t our standard. We want to be better, we want to play better and we will be better (against Benetton).”

If the Lions lose against Benetton they will head back home and have a weekend off to prepare for a home run of games in the URC, but if they win they will travel to either Ireland to play Connacht or France to face Pau in the Challenge Cup quarterfinals next week.

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