Kirwan fires Lions warning
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - If the Lions ever needed a warning ahead of what they face from the touring Blues side on Saturday, coach Sir John Kirwan delivered it after his team’s loss to the Bulls in their Super Rugby game at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
According to the supersport.com website, with one game left on their short trip to South Africa Kirwan spoke of his disappointment of his side’s play in the loss, but even more so of the desperation to get some points when they visit Ellis Park this coming weekend.
With All Black Keven Mealamu, who withdrew before the Loftus game, likely to be fit, the Blues are targeting a big performance against the Lions in order to bag some points before getting onto the plane home.
"We knew it would be hard coming to Africa early, but we want to go home with some points.
"It’s really important for us to get some points next week,' Kirwan said in reflection, targeting a win this weekend in Johannesburg.
"If we went home with some points next week, then its round four and we’re at home.
"I was really pleased with the courage of the guys in the second half, but for three weeks in a row, we’ve given the opposition too much of a head start."
In only one of those three games – against the Crusaders – the Blues have been able to overturn the deficit, and on Saturday against the Bulls they were unable to come back after the Bulls snuffed out most of their chances and took their opportunities when it counted.
"We made too many unforced errors in the first half, and we once again gave the opposition too much of a head start.
"I thought we did we did well in the second half and fought our way back into it.
"I thought we could have finished a bit better," Kirwan said.
"When you make too many unforced errors and give away easy tries, then you’re always going to get in trouble, especially over here."
Kirwan pointed to the errors, and particularly Jono Ross’ try when Tom Donnelly scooped the ball up to nowhere, as one of the big reasons they lost.
"I think it cost us the game.
"The boys stuck to the game plan pretty well.
"We took the lineout from the Bulls – it was 28 minutes before they got their first lineout – so we were tracking well.
"We made a couple of errors on our exits, we didn’t get out of our half good enough and the short kicks cost us.
"After half-time we came back pretty well and played a lot more structure.
"We needed to continue that pressure and put a little more pressure on the Bulls.
"At 29-22 I thought if we had got a penalty there, we would increase the pressure."
The Blues are likely to be buoyed by the Sharks performance against the Lions and with enough gamebreakers in their team could well look to run the Lions ragged this weekend.