Lions homeward bound … and chance to get URC campaign back on track
The Lions now face two of the weaker sides in the competition in back-to-back matches on home soil.
Lions eighthman Francke Horn says that the team is keen to entertain their home fans on their return to SA from their overseas URC tour. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images
The Lions have a great opportunity to get their United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign up and running when they face Zebre and Dragons back home at Ellis Park over the next two weekends.
It has been a difficult start to the season for the Lions who have lost four out of five games, leaving them firmly in the bottom half of the table in 13th place.
But they have been competitive in every match so far and could have won a few of them if they had taken their chances, with them picking up bonus points in all four of their losses.
The Lions’ sole win this season was by a solitary point as well, 24-23 over Scarlets in Llanelli, and having played their major away tour early they now have a chance to build some good momentum back on home soil.
They also get to play two of the weaker teams in the URC which gives them a chance to get a couple of strong wins under their belts, especially with the Challenge Cup competition kicking off in December.
Although the Lions will be favourites against both Zebre and Dragons, who have struggled in the URC over the past two seasons, finishing bottom and second bottom of the log on both occasions, they cannot underestimate their opponents.
Zebre will be on a high having beaten the Sharks and drawn with Cardiff in Parma over the past two weekends, while the Dragons got their first win against Ospreys over the past weekend.
The Lions will head into the Zebre game off of a 24-17 loss against Irish giants Ulster, and although they have a few things to fix they can take heart from a positive performance that pushed the hosts all the way.
Lions eighthman Francke Horn believes the team can build on their performance against Ulster and that the team is very happy to be back home and they will now be looking to entertain the home fans going forward.
“I think we had a really good first half and then we had a couple of errors (early in the second half) last weekend. The two kick-offs put us under pressure and we ended up conceding some points,” explained Horn.
“But the effort, desperation and fight can’t be questioned, the guys left everything on the field. A small silver lining is we got one point (losing bonus point) out of the game. But I know the guys were desperate for the win and unfortunately we couldn’t get it.
“We are a really tight group of guys and we have been fighting really hard to get the results. We can’t wait to get back to South Africa and play in front of our fans. We want to entertain them by scoring tries and getting some wins.”