Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Lions to keep their feet on the ground despite Leinster thrashing

Although the Lions scored a number of superb tries against Leinster, flexing their attack, it was their defence that impressed the most.

The Lions will be keeping their feet firmly on the ground despite producing arguably their best performance of the season to thump Irish giants Leinster in their United Rugby Championship (URC) match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

A blitzed start saw the Lions tear into a 22-0 lead after 15 minutes, before two tries in the final three minutes sealed a massive 44-12 win, over an experienced second-string visiting side.

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Despite staying 11th on the log after the bonus point win, the Lions have firmly put themselves into the URC playoff race, with them level on points with three teams above them, and one point behind Ospreys in seventh and the Stormers in sixth.

However captain Marius Louw knows just how tight things are and admits that the team can’t get carried away with this result, as they now turn their attention to defending champs Munster, who beat the Bulls at Loftus.

“I think we need to stick to our processes and take it game by game, because you can’t think too far ahead. You have to win next week to be able to stay in it. It’s so tight on the log that anything can happen,” explained Louw.

“So we have to make sure that we stick to what we can do and manage the game as best as possible. But obviously giving Leinster 40 points is a confidence booster. It will definitely lift Munster for next weekend as well, so that should be able to lift us even more.”

Impressive defence

Although the Lions scored a number of superb tries against Leinster, flexing their attack, it was their defence that impressed the most after they brilliantly kept the visitors scoreless in the first half, despite a long period of immense pressure in their 22m.

Even in the second half, when Leinster managed to get in for two tries the Lions didn’t panic, upped their defence and then powered away when the opportunity arose, which coach Ivan van Rooyen readily admitted he was proud of.

“I think what I am proudest about was the fight and character on defence, and the willingness to keep them out. Over the 80 minutes I think that was our best character fight this season, and well done to the players for that,” said Van Rooyen.

“Our counter-attack was great, from scraps and from ball on ground, to finish that off was delightful. To work that hard on defence and then get an opportunity and use it was really good to see.”

The Lions now face a massive challenge against Munster, who will be riding high after their win over the Bulls, and with both teams in great spirits it should make for an entertaining match this coming weekend.