Lame Lions digging own grave?

2012-04-10 14:05

Cape Town – Losing has become an unpleasantly lingering virus for the Lions ... and whether they even possess the required “muti” to recuperate must be considered in some doubt.

Their fifth defeat on the trot, to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, not only left them very much down among the dead men of Super Rugby 2012 thus far, but was alarming because of the margin of defeat.

Previously, the Johannesburg franchise had been earning the respect of neutrals for the spirit and tenacity they showed even as they surrendered games – with a bit more luck, after all, they might have actually beaten both the Hurricanes and even the high-flying Stormers at Coca-Cola Park.

Keep in mind also that when they went down 23-13 to the Crusaders at the venue less than a fortnight ago, Butch James badly hooked a last-ditch penalty that would have earned them the consolation of a pretty deserved losing bonus point for ending within seven points of the seven-time champions.

Until last Saturday, then, the Lions had at least clung to a reputation as a “nearly” team – in line with a broader trend in this year’s competition for many results to be desperately close.

So people who are pessimistic about their chances of escaping the nether regions of both the conference and overall tables would only have increased their levels of fear after the 21-point defeat to the Cheetahs, initially touted as probable participants in a two-horse race with them to stave off relegation as the spectre of the Southern Kings’ planned involvement from 2013 looms ever larger.

Suddenly at Free State Stadium the Lions looked rather more genuinely like a spooked, low-on-star-factor outfit, never mind that they barely deserved to be trailing by a gaping 23-0 at the break and nominally “won” the second half 5-3 as the Cheetahs went into a cruise control mode.

There is probably a case for saying that, rather than the Lions actually looking compelling in that second period, the host team simply started showing the effects of fatigue from their unusually successful overseas leg. 

The long-term injury list in the Big Smoke is a near-pitiful one, and rank inexperience in their front row, for instance, was exposed as in-form Cheetahs behemoths Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss and WP Nel put the squeeze on at scrum time.

Clearly the Lions need to break their losing habit fast: they simply must clinch at least one of successive home fixtures against the Bulls (this Saturday) and then the Brumbies (after the tonic of a final bye weekend) if there is to be any chance of their parlous position altering.

That encounter against Jake White’s charges is the start of a nine-game unbroken roster for Josh Strauss and company until the end of the ordinary season, although the Lions will obviously benefit more than most from the time off during the June Test window: Springbok candidates are unlikely to come dime-a-dozen from the franchise as things stand.

After the Brumbies date the Lions head abroad for their four-game tour: it was there that they rather rejuvenated their campaign last season, winning two of the games, although cynics may be inclined to mutter than perhaps lightning won’t strike again this time.

The Bulls will be heavy favourites this weekend, although if the Lions can capture some of their 2011 “Currie Cup spirit” in the cross-Hennops derby they may have a slim chance of upsetting the form book.

Defeat will only be another ominous turn ... the Lions then face the prospect of tackling both the men from the Pretoria and the Stormers, significantly the two best SA flag-carriers thus far, on enemy turf in two of the last three weeks of the campaign.

Like it or not, if the Lions’ campaign does disintegrate into glaring embarrassment – it is not too far off doing so -- they will only politically ease the controversial matter of the Kings’ addition to the Super Rugby party ...

These are the remaining 10 Lions fixtures:

Bulls (H), bye, Brumbies (H), Chiefs (A), Blues (A), Reds (A), Force (A), Sharks (H), Stormers (A), Rebels (H), Bulls (A).

  • CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-10 14:25

    The Lions, without any RWC call ups last year, were always destined to win the Currie Cup. That was going to be their best, and only, good performance for the foreseeable future. Into the Super15 we roll, and as expected, the Lions are not a threat to anyone and will continue their self-implosion to finish last, as expected, of all the SA sides. Sad but true ...

      Morne - 2012-04-10 14:53

      Your statement makes no sense they beat a stormers side and a sharks side with all there boks in the semi- finals and finals where are you from planet did not watch the games!!!

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-10 14:59

      Stormers and Sharks should never have played their Boks. They know that. The inclusion of the Boks shook those teams' stability. The Lions kept the same pack and their consistency and passion won them the Currie Cup. I'll be very surprised if we see the Lions winning anything again in the next 5 years

      Morne - 2012-04-10 15:05

      Bwhahahaha you cant now change your story you said no boks that why they won now you say they should of not played them that is why they lost WTF dude

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-10 15:07

      you misunderstood - I meant the OTHER teams should not have played their Boks because it changed the team psyche and upset the CC balance.

      Morne - 2012-04-10 15:21

      I know mate I am just pulling your leg man we all know they suck

  • Anthony - 2012-04-10 14:26

    The Lions are playing like 5 year olds. Where is the Curry Cup spark of last year??

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-10 14:30

      Gone along with any hope of 2012 glory. They had their best in that CC final. Now it's all downhill I'm afraid ...

      Gerald - 2012-04-10 15:35

      The only thing the poor Lions can hope to win this season is the wooden spoon

  • drjohan.gouws - 2012-04-10 14:39

    This leads me to tears ... what happened to the once proud team who even won the Currie Cup last year against a Springbok-loaded Shark team? I make the statement that their pattern has become too predictable and that the forwards are lightweights matched with the other teams ... they need a strong tight five ... and that lacks at the moment ...

      Gerald - 2012-04-10 15:38

      If Dumbtree hadn't duffed up by putting his Boks in, and rather stuck with the players who got them to the final, I think the Sharks would have won the 2011 CC

  • Lionel - 2012-04-10 14:50

    Go Lions....make us Stormers supporters proud this Saturday:):):)

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 14:58

      Indeed we do my friend,should be a great contest between two great sides:):):) Remember, you boys still gotta play the Stormers again and we all know what happened the last time the two met hehehee

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 15:19

      Raven,I am also soooo looking forward to that game,wish I could make the trip up(bietjie bang vir daai sous tannies:):):))but Ive already committed to going to PE for the Bok/England test 23 June!!!

      Marius - 2012-04-10 16:01

      @ Lionel, nice to hear you're coming to PE for the England test. Got my tickets too. Perhaps we could meet for a beer at the stadium before the game.

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 16:04

      Marius,would love to,will keep in touch!!!

  • heinrich.beukes1 - 2012-04-10 15:02

    I was away for the weekend so luckily was not able to watch this game. I was very passionate about their play in the beginning of the season but unfortunately they are a disappointment once again.

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 15:07

      Moenie opgee nie my vriend,julle kan alles regmaak die naweek!!!!!!!!!!!

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 15:40

      Not banking on anybody,just showing my support to the Lions like you show your support to any SA team that plays the Stormers!!!

      heinrich.beukes1 - 2012-04-10 15:54

      @Lionel ek sal maar liewer negatief bly en as hulle verloor dan is dit nie 'n groot disappointment nie as hulle wen is dit 'n bonus!

  • colin85 - 2012-04-10 15:06

    Lions should win 2 out of next 10 at least, with a chance of maybe a max of 4. I wish them well, but am hoping the Cheetahs can make top 6, with Bulls and Stormers. Shame about the close loss to Lions and more importantly, Brumbies

  • Matt - 2012-04-10 15:26

    I hope the lions do a better towards the end of season. But honestly now... after so many years in Super Rugby - shouldnt they be aiming abit higher than just the odd win?

  • meyr.cruywagen - 2012-04-10 15:26

    As I said before... One Gauteng team is enough. Let sleeping Lions sleep...

  • Bennie - 2012-04-10 15:38

    As a Lions supporter I am gutted! No more denying the fact that the Lions have very bad karma in Super rugby. We had a very good team in 2011, but now due to injuries, our campaign is down the dumps. We will get hammered by the Bulls this weekend and will lose a close one to the Brumbies. 1 Win is all that we will have to show for. I was excited to see our boys play S15, but now it brings tears to my eyes! I do not know what I will do for the next 11 weeks! Good luck to all the other SA Teams! Maybe we will see you in 2013!

      Gaye - 2012-04-10 16:33

      Bennie, I am a Bull supporter, but I am so sorry for the Lions and am heartsore that injury is the main issue here.I was very happy for them winning the Curry cup and they definitely played the best rugby I had seen for a long while last year. When all their injured players return and they get there momentum back, we will see a major difference I am sure. The Bulls have also lost a number of key players and are also just pulling wins - (for the time being)! Each team has its rebuilding period but when all those injured players return, we will once again see a winning Lions team !!! Just keep the flag flying, brother, you will dry your tears again !!!!!!!

  • Alan - 2012-04-10 18:03

    Well my opion is that the LIONS are going to be relegated at the end of the season and the Southern Kings will in the Super 15 in 2013, BUT only for 2013 and then the Super Kings will be back in the lower leauge and the LIONS back in Super 15! If there is no money to by talent it is hard to be a winning team.

      patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-12 11:55

      where do you come up with these thoughts Alan do you think that the Super15 has now introduced a promotion/relegation at the end of each season.. clueless...... No money, are you referring to the Lions being bankrupt?

  • Ken - 2012-04-10 19:26

    Rob Houwing will never write anything positive about the Lions!

  • Frans - 2012-04-10 19:35

    Lack of stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Frans - 2012-04-10 19:39

    Lions must go and look in the cheetah factory how stars are fabricated!

  • Brendan - 2012-04-10 23:15

    I'm proud to be the nephew of left wing, Andries Coetzee! What a talent. Agreed?

  • Owencat - 2012-04-11 07:28

    Considering the Lions recent past, it is nothing short of a miracle what the Lions achieved in 2011 CC. Credit must go to John Mitchell, he is a fantastic coach. Think of some of the Lions recent player losses to other unions/abroad and its easy to see that the cureent Lions squad is made up of mostly inexperienced amateurs and some good players past their prime. Obviously in the pro rugby world the chequebook reigns supreme, and even with a cash injection into the union it will always be hard to attract class players to the Lions, after loffies reign, the exodus was vast. How many great ex-lions are plying their trade for other unions? One thing is certain, the Sharks nor the Stormers are made up of home grown talent. The GLRU dug themsleves a big hole in the past years which is difficult to climb out of, even with money! Lions need more top class players on their books. Time to raid the other unions war chests, just like they have done to the Lions in recent times.

      patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-12 11:56

      going to be hard when they are bankrupt going to offer them a night out in Hilbrow?

  • Vernon - 2012-04-11 11:38

    Remember 7 defeats in a row some time back - history about to repeat itself !!!

  • Robsschele - 2012-04-11 14:16

    The Lions might take 2/10 of the remaining matches. The Sharks because it is a coastal team and the Rebels because it is a home game against an overseas team which is currently fourth from bottom. I don't know if they will beat the Stormers but they will play well against them.

  • patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-12 11:57

    Bye Bye Lions Welcome Southern Kings

  • patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-12 11:59

    How do all your rugby experts out there think this team would handle in the Super 15? Born and bred in the Southern Kings Region If there was money they would not have gone to the money unions 1.Ryno Gerber 2.Bandisa Maku 3. Michael Coetzee 4.Daron Nel 5. Rory Duncan 6. Luke Watson/Siya Kolisi 7. Jacques Potgieter/Dewald Potgieter 8. Keegan Daniel/Ryan Kankovski 9. Rory Kockett/JP Joubert 10.Elton Jantjies 11. Lwazi Mvovo/JJ Engelbrecht/ Bjorn Basson 12.Tim Whitehead 13.Zane Kirchner 14. Odwa/Akona Ndungane/Jongi Nokwe/Lionel Mapoe 15. Fabian Juries/Micheal Killian

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