Johannesburg - Despite losing 26-8 to the Stormers in their opening hit-out, MTN Lions coach John Mitchell is perfectly satisfied with his team’s preparation for the upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Mitchell returned to Johannesburg on the weekend and was impressed with some aspects of his side’s play, even though they conceded three tries and lost the game heavily on the scoreboard.
That is of little concern to the Lions coach, who didn’t allow his forwards to show too much in the game, and whose team suffered at the hands of some breakaway tries by the Stormers.
“I’m not interested in results at all. I’m not concerned at the outcome of the game – it was a first hit out, especially against a team that already had games under their belt,” Mitchell told SuperSport.com.
“What I was impressed with was our forwards, who worked hard throughout the game, and carried the ball a lot more than the opposition did. We outworked them in that area, but we have a way to go before we get to Vodacom Super Rugby and we need to be more physical.”
According to Mitchell the lineout needs a lot more work, as does match fitness for his squad, but nothing that he cannot put right before the start of the season in a few weeks time. And with eight players tasting Super Rugby match intensity for the first time, Mitchell was more than happy.
“We purposely didn’t show too much, we used one constant pattern among the forwards, to make the guys work much harder and get them closer to match fitness.”
One area of concern though was the way the game was handled, as the Lions coach believed referee Jaco Peyper could have gone to his cards a lot earlier in the game to stop the Stormers negative play. At one stage, the Stormers had only 12 men on the field, after being punished for professional fouls in the game.
“We are going to need to look at it and work with referees. The Stormers got away with killing the ball at the breakdown. Jaco (Peyper) could have given yellow cards a lot earlier,” Mitchell explained.
“They (the Stormers) certainly won’t get away with that in the Super Rugby tournament. The three tries scored against us were all from our own errors and we presented ourselves too narrow on attack. We still have a good month to go before the competition and we will keep working hard so that in a few weeks we are exactly where we want to be.”
With the Lions still assessing whether their game against the Kings will be of proper value to them given they are likely to face a weaker side, the training regime becomes all the more important for the Currie Cup champions.