Lions can go all the way - Nollis
Johannesburg - The Emirates Lions are undoubtedly the top side in South Africa at the moment and have every chance of going all the way in Super Rugby.
According to SuperSport, that’s the view of beaten Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais, whose team will begin their month long break by licking their wounds after the mauling they took at home on Saturday night.
Marais had previously warned his charges that if they were not at the top of their game they would take 50 against the Lions. With a 56-20 humiliation at home, there was simply nothing positive to say about the performance, as the Bulls were never ever in the game and while they may still make the playoffs, the gulf between them and the Lions remains as stark as the scoreline after this weekend’s matches.
Marais wasted no time giving credit to the Lions, was humble in defeat, but admitted it was back to the drawing board for his side, who struggled to get their hands on the ball at Loftus, failed to keep up with the pace of the Lions and were simply blown away by the Lions masterclass they put on in Pretoria.
“Definitely, I mean 56-20, they are a good side and play good rugby. I think we learnt a lot from today, it doesn’t seem that way but they are an excellent rugby side. In South Africa if you want to beat them, they are the team, they are the best team,” Marais said afterwards.
“They have a real chance of going all the way. They play a similar brand of rugby to New Zealand teams but they are going to be very difficult to beat. All credit to them they play very good rugby.”
“Let’s give credit where credit is due, the Lions were excellent. They showed us just how far we are behind and the score reflects that. 56-20 they were very good tonight and congratulations to them.
“In the beginning we stole two of their lineouts on attack and then suddenly they stole two of ours. As soon as we got onto the attack they stole our lineouts, and it was messy. The first scrum was a penalty and the next one was thrown against Lizo’s leg and they won it. We were under pressure from the beginning.”
Marais pinpointed the breakdown as the beginning of their woes, and said in the end they were barely hanging on.
“We were penalised a lot at the breakdown. The penalty count was at one stage 12-5, and you can’t defend so many penalties,” he explained.
“All credit to them. We didn’t get our setpieces going and we couldn’t play from that. The last 20 minutes we were just hanging on, we had a yellow card and we couldn’t play from that. Our discipline needs to be better, when you play a top side like the Lions it needs to be better and they showed why they are top class.”
While the Bulls changeroom was a morbid place as many of their young stars were also shunned by the Bok selectors, Marais said there would be calm and reflection, and that he had decided not to address the team after the defeat.
“The best thing is to say nothing after the game, because it is emotional and you might say something you will regret.We will sit down, watch the game tomorrow, go through that and then decide. But I mean it is not worthwhile saying anything now.”
It will be a night that Marais will not forget easily, and a stark reminder of the hill the young Bulls side still has to climb. So far in Super Rugby they have had it relatively easy, losing just a handful of matches and not being humiliated badly before this in South Africa.
But this past weekend will leave a scar, and one they need to learn from if they are to grow. They at least have a month now to ponder what went wrong before they head to Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares.
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