Bullied Lions have a point to prove against Stormers
It will be a tough test for the Highveld side, but they will need to up their game if they don’t want to suffer the same fate of last week.
Lions players during a training session. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
A bruised and bullied Lions team will have a point to prove when they end the year with a United Rugby Championship (URC) match against the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
The Lions players did not receive a very nice Christmas present in their game against the Sharks in Durban last Friday, where they were heavily defeated 37-10.
Coming up against a similarly Springbok laden Stormers side, riding high on a wave of good recent form on their home ground, will be a tough test for the Highveld side, but they will need to up their game if they don’t want to suffer the same fate of last week.
Key to that will be improving their defensive effort, which seemed to fall away in the second half against the Sharks, allowing the hosts to run away with the match.
“We got bullied. The Sharks were physically better than us. We had a good look at ourselves and that wasn’t our standard. We will definitely have to pick up our defensive effort if we want to win,” admitted Lions defence coach Jaque Fourie.
“It’s a year ago that we beat them in Cape Town. They have become a different team since then. They have gone on to win the URC and have picked up a lot of momentum,” he added.
“We want to forget about what happened against the Sharks and put our positive energy into beating them (Stormers) on Saturday. They are a quality side with the ball and are good defensively. So we have to be at our best if we want to win.”
The Stormers’ counter-attacking game is one of the best in the URC and is something that Fourie is keenly aware of and one the Lions will need to defend well against if they don’t want to be run off their feet in the match.
The Bulls were the most recent team to be shown how dangerous the Stormers can be when in full flight, after a three-try blitz in their game last week proved decisive.
“The Stormers are very dangerous with counter-attacks. Those three tries they scored in five minutes against the Bulls, it was from an error in the air and then getting the ball and going with it. If you give them any opportunity to counter-ruck or run at you, they will punish you,” said Fourie.
“We have to stay connected in the defensive line and close their space and time. Otherwise it will be a long day at the office.”