Lions’ defensive effort, character big pluses in Challenge Cup
One of the Lions' major traits this season on the field has been their character.
Scrumhalf Nico Steyn has hailed the fight the Lions showed this weekend. Picture: Valentine Chapuis/Gallo Images)
Lions scrumhalf Nico Steyn has commended his teammates for the character they showed when they were under siege in their 13-3 loss to Top14 outfit Montpellier in the Challenge Cup on Saturday.
Steyn and Co knew they would be up against it when they travelled to France without their regulars to take on a team that had the likes of Cobus Reinach and Jan Serfontein in the ranks.
Their previous trip to France had seen them walk away with an impressive 28-12 win over Marvin Orie’s Perpignan.
This time around, the Lions found the going hard against Montpellier, who once won the Challenge Cup under former Springbok coach Jake White in 2016. The weather conditions and the tempo at which Montpellier played the game put the Lions under the pump.
Despite being put under pressure, the Lions never backed down and were competitive throughout the match.
“One massive positive we can take out of this game was our defensive effort,” Steyn told the Lions’ media department.
“I think every single guy on the field just scoped their man and made the punches. They kept coming at us, and we didn’t stand back. I think we can really take that forward as a team.
“That shows the character we have in the team, the character we showed to just keep on fighting although the scoreboard was not on our side,” he said.
Steyn, who got a rare chance to start for the Lions, noted that their discipline was their downfall and is something they need to fix going forward.
“Yes, we made a lot of errors, we spoke about discipline, and discipline was one of the major things that cost us the game. That’s on us, we can fix that, it’s in our hands, it’s controllable,” Steyn said.
Last 16 qualification
The Lions had their place in the knockout stage of the Challenge Cup confirmed, along with their Pool 2 rivals Montpellier, Benetton, and the Ospreys.
Ivan van Rooyen’s side will play their final pool game on Sunday afternoon at Ellis Park against Ospreys. Although both teams have already qualified, the match is not a dead rubber.
The Lions and Ospreys are equal on nine points in Pool 1 and they will be hoping to get the maximum points on offer to increase their tally to get a good seeding for the last 16 draw.