Vodacom Super Rugby
Mitchell blames set pieces
John Mitchell (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Lions coach John Mitchell singled out his team’s poor performance at the set pieces as one of the main contributing factors to Saturday’s 30-25 loss to the Reds in Johannesburg.
“The thing that disappointed me the most in the performance was the set-pieces in the second half,” said Mitchell.
“Our failure there became extremely costly as your backs can’t live off ball received behind the advantage line and there were some poor individual choices in kick-and-receive as well.”
In yet another close finish, Lions flyhalf Andre Pretorius missed four shots at goal that cost the team 10 points.
The former Springbok’s decision making was lauded by Mitchell who, for this game, decided his men should use attacking kicks far more frequently than they have thus far in the competition.
“The kicks were costly but I still think our set-pieces are not to the level it should be,” he said of Pretorius’ day with the boot.
“I thought in the first half we showed the composure we were after, we got ourselves into the right areas of the field, managed to get some conversion out of the pressure we put on them and we defended well.
Lions captain Doppies la Grange was impressed with his team’s committed effort in the first half and said that they will be taking many positives from the way they played in that time.
“We didn’t make the right choices in the second half as opposed to the first, which I thought was excellent,” La Grange said after his first match in charge.
“We kept composure and that is something we were working on the whole week and we kept to our game plan and the result showed in the first half.”
Having only won one match in the Super Rugby competition thus far, Mitchell was understandably disappointed with the loss, but the coach reflected on this match as one where his charges learnt some valuable lessons.
“As much as it hurts short term, there is a long term goal here and there’s a lot of work to do in this union before we can get to the top.”
“While everyone is after an outcome - which would be nice - we have to be deserving of it and right at the moment we are not.
Meanwhile the Johannesburg squad had to finish the match without two of their first choice outside backs.
Fullback Michael Killian and wing Deon van Rensburg both left the field during the contest.
Killian was replaced by Jaco Taute who delivered a stand-out performance while Van Rensburg’s place on the wing was filled by scrumhalf Rory Kockott.
Kockott slotted a late penalty which handed the Lions a bonus point for losing by less than seven.
The severity of the respective player’s injuries will be known on Monday.
On the up-side, former New Zealand Sevens player James Kamana will be eligible to play after serving out a two week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn.
“James Kamana comes back into the setup this week and that will help in terms of cover for those injuries to Deon and Michael.”
The Lions still occupy 14th place on the combined log standings and will travel to Durban this week where they will face the Sharks on Saturday.