Gutsy Lions finally find their roar on defence, but now need to do it consistently

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Marius Louw. (Photo by Chris Fairweather/Getty Images)
Marius Louw. (Photo by Chris Fairweather/Getty Images)
  • The Lions showed some long overdue defensive prowess in their URC victory over Ospreys in Swansea.
  • Head coach Ivan van Rooyen noted that once they ironed out some system errors in the first half, they got reward in that regard.
  • But he hopes his troops can now shed their tag of being inconsistent by building on the performance.

Defensive prowess hasn't exactly been the Lions' forte over the past few years, but a sterling rearguard effort in the latter stages of an unexpected 28-27 URC win over Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday night will imbue some much-needed belief.

It's been a tough year for Jaque Fourie, the Lions' defence coach, in his first full-time coaching gig as he and his troops aim to establish an efficient system.

In fact, they still conceded four in this match though by the start of the second half, there had been a dramatic improvement in their marking, which would eventually play a vital role in their victory.

"We felt at halftime we gave them two relatively easy tries," said Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen.

"We felt it was more individual and system errors than brilliance from them. But we put them under quite a bit of pressure defensively [as the game progressed]. We felt that if we could minimise the penalties and keep on working hard, we could turn it in our favour.

"We saw that in the last two, three minutes."

READ | Lions come from behind to down Ospreys and secure first URC win of the season

Following a misfiring debut last weekend against the Bulls on his debut, midfielder Marius Louw set the example with 14 tackles.

The Lions were also pleased with an excellent, match-clinching try by winger Edwill van der Merwe, who coasted in after a slick build-up that featured some superb interplay between replacement props and siblings JP and Ruan Smith.

"There is more belief in ourselves and what we are doing, what we tried in preseason, how we want to play and what we want to represent," said Van Rooyen.

"This is a good away win against an unbelievable Ospreys team. It's good to start the tour with a win, obviously. We'd go through five, six, seven phases and really look threatening. Those two areas will be a big focus for us this week. I'm really proud of the guys' effort"

Yet the key now for the men from Doornfontein is to build on this showing, especially given their pesky habit of souring a good performance with a lacklustre one.

Van Rooyen noted that last year's early-season trip provides an appropriate guide in that regard.

"We also won the first one against Zebre last year and in the second game against the Scarlets we crashed. It's important for us to back it up with a good week of preparation," he said, ahead of Friday's meeting with Cardiff.

"It's going to be two desperate teams."

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