Vodacom Super Rugby
Lions investment bears fruit
Bloemfontein – Money does not solve every problem, but when long-term investments start yielding positive returns it will put a smile on any businessman’s face in Johannesburg.
Lions fans will certainly have a spring in their step after their team won their first Super Rugby match in almost two years on Saturday. They beat the Cheetahs 25-20 at the Free State Stadium. Their previous victory was in May 2009.
“We always believed in ourselves. It was just about sticking to our guns under pressure – as we had to do against the Cheetahs with a yellow card against us. The victory is a good sign. We will certainly enjoy it,” said Lions coach John Mitchell.
Having lost 17 successive matches prior to the victory, it’s too early to start talking about the Manchester United era, but the Lions have certainly risen.
And Mitchell believes a victory does not always have to be pretty.
“It was a good performance. Sometimes you also have to win ugly. We had a number of opportunities that we did not finish. We’re a team that can score four tries against anyone. We’re growing in leadership and confidence.
“We’re ambitious and believe in what we do. Goalkicking and defence is very important in Super Rugby and we saw that against the Cheetahs.”
Lions warhorse Wikus van Heerden believes the four points were well-deserved.
“The signs of a looming victory have been there for a while. It’s nice to be able to achieve it against the Cheetahs. We are busy going from strength to strength,” he said.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies missed two conversions, but passed his test with the boot after struggling under pressure in the first few weeks.
“Young placekickers need to experience pressure situations like Elton did with the last penalty. It will definitely mean a lot to him. He will still experience plenty such situations and then hopefully will again get it right,” said Mitchell.
The coach said that Kiwi fullback James Kamana had also more than contributed his part.
“James definitely made a big contribution. He has the ability to beat opponents on attack and brings a good energy to the side. Jaco (Taute) and he are two different players. It was a difficult choice between them,” said Mitchell.