Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Lions hit the reset button ahead of blockbuster Leinster challenge

'We are back home now again and there are no more second chances for us.'

The Lions have hit the reset button ahead of a massive end-of-season run-in, starting with a blockbuster United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against Irish powerhouse Leinster at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

It has been an inconsistent season as usual for the Johannesburg side, with them currently 11th on the URC log having won six and lost seven of their matches so far, and they need to win the majority of their final five games if they want to make it into the URC top eight.

ALSO READ: Lions banking on home ground advantage to get them into URC top eight

This will secure their place in the playoffs and extend their season into the knockouts, but that will be easier said than done with them hosting three of the URC top four sides over the coming five weeks.

Glaring inconsistency

The Lions have just returned from a three-game overseas tour where their glaring inconsistency was fully on display.

They thrashed a 14-man Connacht 38-14 in Galway, before slumping to a 36-21 defeat to Ospreys in Swansea, both in the URC, and were then dumped out of the Challenge Cup 27-17 by Benetton in Treviso.

Lions defence coach Jaque Fourie believes that they can get back to the level of play that they produced against Connacht, but admitted that they had to hit the reset button with them back at home.

“I think we can get back to that level of play. I don’t think we had hiccups overseas, I just think we played badly. That first game against Connacht we were down to 14-men, the guys were up for the challenge and it was then disappointing against Ospreys and Benetton,” said Fourie.

“So we need to press the reset button after those defeats. We are back home now again and there are no more second chances for us. We have to make top eight and in order to do that you need to win your games at home.”

Home assist

Fourie explained that the Lions had no choice but to become more consistent over their final five pool games if they wanted to reach their goal of making the playoffs, and that playing at home would be able to assist them in doing that.

“That is the challenge, we need to be consistent. We have to be more consistent in the way we want to play and what our brand (of play) is. We have to do that week in and week out and the key to that is consistency,” said Fourie.

“To do that we know that we need to win at least four out of our last five games if we want to make the top eight. Being back at home we know the importance of home ground advantage and the guys know what we need to do to achieve that.

“The weather also makes a big difference. But we still need to retain ball at the rucks, get over the advantage line and play in the right areas of the field. Then the way the Lions want to play will come out in that structure.”