Currie Cup

Lions grateful former junior star pointed out set-piece flaws with Bulls looming

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Darrien Landsberg (Gallo Images)
Darrien Landsberg (Gallo Images)
  • The Pumas arguably did the Lions a favour on Saturday by alerting them to some hitches in their set-piece ahead of the clash against the Bulls.
  • Former Lion age-group star Darrien Landsberg played a big role in discomforting his former team, delivering a fine performance.
  • While the Lions tried to experiment with a little less structure to their game, the narrow result means they'll probably be more conservative at Loftus.

Given that they come up against a team oozing power in the set-pieces, the Lions are concerned over their struggles in those areas against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday.

Ivan van Rooyen's troops secured their spot in the Currie Cup semifinals with a nervy 33-25 victory, but need a win over the table-topping Bulls at Loftus on Wednesday afternoon to put themselves in a position for a home playoff.

That objective would be severely complicated if they can't fire at the scrums and line-outs.

Head coach Van Rooyen, however, also praised the efforts of their former age-group star Darrien Landsberg, who was excellent for the Pumas in the second row.

The 22-year-old utility forward moved to the Lowveld during lockdown having been extensively scouted by Pumas director of rugby, Jimmy Stonehouse.

"We're very familiar with Darrien and he knows our system quite well too for obvious reasons," said Van Rooyen.

"(Pumas loosehead) Morgan Naude has also had an excellent season, so we were definitely primed for a big clash in the set-pieces. I'm really happy for Darrien, it's been a good move for him.

"That said, we've maintained throughout that we believe set-pieces is one of our strengths, so we'll definitely have to have a good look at things."

While Van Rooyen quipped that he'll try to "keep a 50/50 ratio between positive and negative things from the game, even through there were more negatives", he was still happy that the Lions that delivered an iffy performance now instead of when the stakes are higher.

"We were really proud of the win and the character we showed, but a bit disappointed with the performance itself," he said.

"The Pumas did really well to consistently disrupt our rhythm. It was a good occasion to try and be a bit 'abnormal' and try different things in terms of our playing style."

But that adventurous streak will likely be tempered against their neighbours from across the Jukskei, not that the Ellis Park faithful would mind too much as the Lions have been pretty potent when adopting a more balanced approach in this campaign.

"If things went a bit different, we might've considered changing the plan for the Bulls, but I think this result will force us to be a bit more conservative," said Van Rooyen.

"Hopefully we can tire the Bulls enough for the Pumas to pounce against them next weekend."

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