Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

OPINION: Lions will never be successful as long as they remain inconsistent

The Lions were unable to put a string of good wins together, their inconsistency through the season preventing them from making the URC quarter-finals.

It ended up being another disappointing season for the Lions as they saw their hopes of making the United Rugby Championship (URC) knockouts for the first time dashed on the final weekend of pool stage action.

In their three seasons in the competition to date the Lions have never finished in the top eight, and thus are yet to qualify for the pinnacle of Northern Hemisphere franchise rugby, the Champions Cup competition.

After a tough first campaign in the URC in the 2021-22 season, when the Lions finished 12th on the 16-team log with eight wins and 10 losses, they made it a major goal of theirs to reach the playoffs over the following two seasons.

However, despite slight improvements over the next two seasons, the Highveld side still fell short, finishing ninth on the log with nine wins and nine losses on both occasions.

Flattered to deceive

The current season will be the one that has stung the most for the Lions, as they flattered to deceive at various stages, when they were on target to secure a top eight spot.

In the end they were edged on number of games won by Ospreys, who finished on the same number of log points as them, but won 10 games to the Lions’ nine which was enough to edge them ahead on the log.

Their failure to make the playoffs is completely down to the frustrating inconsistency they showed throughout the season.

After beginning their URC campaign with four losses and one win in their opening five games, the Lions bounced back with three straight wins to lift them back up the URC table.

Pipped at the post

But their glaring inconsistency then kicked in again over the rest of the season as they put in a strong performance and followed it up with a poor one.

It started with an impressive showing against the in-form Bulls at Loftus, with a last gasp penalty sailing just wide after the hooter in their 30-28 loss, only for them to follow that up with a dreadful 25-10 loss against the same opponents at Ellis Park a few weeks later.

The Lions then thumped the Sharks at home, and stunningly thrashed Connacht with 14-men in Galway, only to then suffer a poor defeat against Ospreys in Swansea.

Back on home soil a superb win over an understrength Leinster was then followed by a dreadful defeat against Munster, before the Lions bounced back with a good win over Cardiff.

A brilliant win over Glasgow Warriors, again with 14-men, put the Lions right back in the playoff mix with a game to play.

But in an almost poetic end to their season their glaring inconsistency had the final say as despite leading at halftime against the Stormers in Cape Town and seeing the hosts reduced to 14-men early in the second half, they lost the game to leave the door open for Ospreys to pip them at the post.

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