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Ken Borland

Defence, game-management & bouncebackability listed by Van Rooyen as Lions’ best qualities 0

Posted on March 01, 2022 by Ken

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen listed defence, game-management and his side’s ability to bounce back from a chastening defeat as the qualities he was happiest about in his team’s performance against the Bulls in their United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend.

Although the Lions went down 13-21 to their Gauteng neighbours, it was a markedly improved showing from the previous weekend when they were hammered 34-10 by the same side at Ellis Park. And the Lions could even have won in Pretoria were it not for their failure to execute at lineout time, missed chances on attack and a couple of unfortunate scrum penalties that went against them.

“The defence is probably the area that has grown the most since June,” Van Rooyen said. “It’s been difficult to change our system, but against a big, physical Bulls team, we made it difficult for them, we put them back.

“We thought it would rain and we tried to keep them in their 22. We had much more territorial advantage this game and Tiaan Swanepoel makes a big difference with his big boot. The game-management overall was much better today.

“It was a tough week after the loss at Ellis Park, but the reaction we got from the players today says a lot about the group and how they are growing. We really had the Bulls under pressure for the first 20-25 minutes,” Van Rooyen said.

Captain Jaco Kriel, who had been outspoken in his criticism of the previous weekend’s effort, said there had been a welcome lift in intensity at Loftus Versfeld.

“It was nice to see that reaction to what happened last week and how we stayed together as a group,” Kriel said. “But we can be much more clinical. We were in the right areas but we just didn’t round off.

“We spoke about defence for the whole week and the guys’ shoulders certainly felt it! We created enough opportunities through that, but then just small mistakes let us down.

“We had enough chances to convert that pressure into points, but we just didn’t take them. But there was no question about the effort nor the intensity today,” Kriel said.

Lions need to get reinforcements – Van Rooyen 0

Posted on September 08, 2021 by Ken

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen admitted after another chastening defeat against the Sharks at the weekend that the franchise is going to have to get some reinforcements to ensure they are competitive in the United Rugby Championship that is set to start next month.

The Lions bowed out of the Currie Cup at Ellis Park with a dismal 14-56 hiding at the hands of the Sharks, which has condemned them to last place on the log. Having won just two of the nine matches they took the field for, concerns have been expressed over whether the Lions are going to be slaughtered by the even tougher European sides.

“The most logical thing will be to pull players from elsewhere and there are discussions about that going on. There is an opportunity for the company to get some additional hands in the squad. We are understaffed so we have to do it and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes,” Van Rooyen said.

It is, however, looking likely that Van Rooyen will no longer be at the helm of the side for the URC with the Lions administration openly talking about “restructuring”. Van Rooyen’s contract, and that of his assistant coaches, ends in October and last place in the Currie Cup is not a good look for someone trying to get a renewal.

While there has been speculation that CEO Rudolf Straeuli, a former Springbok coach, will take over the coaching reins, weekend reports suggested that former Springboks Victor Matfield and Jaque Fourie, a Lions legend, are also being looked at as potential replacement coaches.

Van Rooyen terribly disappointed by defeat but proud of character & improvement 0

Posted on October 12, 2020 by Ken

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen said he was terribly disappointed by their narrow defeat to the Sharks in Durban but proud of his team for the character they showed and the big improvement in competitiveness compared to their dismal start to the year.

The Lions went down 16-19 to the Sharks in their opening Super Rugby Unlocked match, but they turned down a penalty that could have given them a draw to rather go for a win, only to be penalised at a five-metre scrum after the hooter. But having won just one of their six games in the regular Super Rugby season, to then push the form side in South Africa all the way to the end was heartening, especially after a poor start in which the Sharks led 13-0 after half-an-hour.

“Obviously we’re bitterly disappointed to lose, but the character and fight for the whole 80 minutes the guys showed was unbelievable. So I’m happy with the effort but sad about the result. The Sharks obviously started well and put us under pressure, but we had a bit of hope and momentum going into the second half, we felt that shift.

“Being direct had started to work and the Sharks live on turnovers so that’s what we wanted to negate. So there were a lot of positives, especially the good fight and character the guys showed for 80 minutes, and a lot of individuals put up their hands. We want to challenge the players to adapt to different opponents and we had a specific plan for tonight,” Van Rooyen said after the game.

Lions captain Elton Jantjies also pointed to the big improvement in performance by the side.

“Tonight was probably a 7/10 for us in terms of performance, and that’s coming from a 3/10. So we will just keep training hard and believe, to only lose by three points here shows that we are doing the right things,” Jantjies said.

Neither Van Rooyen nor Jantjies were throwing their toys out of the pram over the final penalty at the scrum that cost the Lions. The Sharks had been under pressure for most of the game in that set-piece, but had also won a couple of penalties earlier in the match.

“The Sharks obviously have a quality front row and I felt we handled them adequately. Obviously there are one or two scrums we will look at again, but generally I felt the scrums went well. The scrum was a good battle, some of them we dominated, but there’s still a bit for us to work on,” Van Rooyen said.

“Both sides had opportunities to win the game and we scored one try each. I had a penalty against the posts, but that happens in rugby. There were other moments at the set-piece that were crucial as well,” Jantjies said.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

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