Super Rugby

'Exceptional' Odendaal looking right at home in Lions red despite back-to-back losses

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Burger Odendaal (Gallo)
Burger Odendaal (Gallo)
  • The Lions went down 23-17 to the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday despite dominating for large periods.
  • The performances of Elton Jantjies and Burger Odendaal were particularly impressive. 
  • The Lions now have a run of four straight home matches at Ellis Park that they must win to stand any chance of winning Super Rugby Unlocked. 

After Saturday's Super Rugby Unlocked clash at Newlands on Saturday, Stormers coach John Dobson pointed to the performance of Lions flyhalf and captain Elton Jantjies as superb. 

It was the man outside Jantjies, however, who was named as the official man of the match despite the Lions going down 23-17 to collect their second successive defeat in the competition. 

While Jantjies pulled the strings with a varied attacking display that included deft chips, up-and-unders, cross-kicks and on-point distribution, Lions No 12 Burger Odendaal was warrior-like in his channel. 

Massive of defence throughout the night, Odendaal was also single-handedly responsible for setting up Jantjies' try in the closing stages of the match to give the visitors a sniff at pulling off a late victory. 

Before that, he thought he had bagged a try of his own only for replays to reveal that the pass he received from Jaco Kriel had gone forward. 

Now 27-years-old having enjoyed a seven-year long stint with the Bulls, Odendaal already looks to be settling in at Ellis Park. 

"There were a couple of exceptional performances and Burger, in my opinion, definitely deserved man of the match," Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen said after the contest. 

"He put his body on the line defensively for 80 minutes and on attack he had brilliant decision making.

"It's nice to have him with us. He's the kind of character we feel can take the Lions a long way forward, having him next to guys like Elton. He's big for us and he had an exceptional game tonight."

As good as Odendaal and Jantjies were, the Lions are now in a position where they will surely have to win their remaining four matches - all at Ellis Park - to stand any chance of being crowned Super Rugby Unlocked champions. 

For most of the contest on Saturday, they were the better side, but an inability to turn opportunities into points and a lapse in concentration when the Stormers ran in two quick tries is ultimately what cost them. 

"I think the first 40 minutes was good for us. We managed to put them under a lot of pressure," added Van Rooyen. 

"There was the try that we scored that was disallowed and we definitely had them under pressure on defence and attack. We knew they would come out fighting in the first 20 minutes after half-time.

"There were just one or two moments that went against us that cost us the game."

While the Lions have certainly displayed glimpses of what they can achieve - their first try from deep in their own territory was a stunning effort - the nature of the format means that there is not a lot of time afforded for teams to find form. 

"It's a sprint, not a marathon," Van Rooyen said of the competition format. 

The Lions are next in action when they take on the Cheetahs at Ellis Park on Saturday. 

"We'll put this one behind us because four games at Ellis Park are going to be special," Jantjies said.

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