Lions Battle the Brumbies – Have a Go at Them Boys!

The Lions have not picked up a single log point in their last 3 games and had it not been for the 2 byes already used up, would be rooted to the bottom of the log. Last year they beat the Brumbies in what many consider to have been a turning point. They will need to do the same on Friday night if they want to put themselves anywhere near being in a position of challenging the 4th spot in the SA conference.

The Brumbies under Jake White are a revelation and it angers me that other teams are able to gain so much success in such a short space of time with no real amount of stars. Like the Reds of last season, they too climbed from the bottom and within the space of a season, are competing amongst the top teams of their conference. With so many plans, promises and such focus of achieving at Super Rugby, why has it been so difficult for the Lions to even budge from the bottom 2 places?

Coach John Mitchell has openly praised the Brumbies attacking flair as well as their defensive structures. They have an excellent scrambled defense and swift backs, capable of putting 5 past the Bulls last week. The Lions always look to win games through running the ball, but do seem to be outmatched if they choose to adopt that tactic again in this instance.

It has now basically reached the point where losing is no longer an option for the Lions. They quite simply have to win and need to win a further 5 or 6 games before the end of the competition. Injuries or no injuries, they need to start winning now.

John Mitchell has often been quoted on his annoyance at “Individualism” but I am beginning to not understand exactly what he means by this. A new trend has crept into the Lions game and that is to pick and drive phase after phase and use quick recycles over and over again. The team actually looks lost if they divert from this tactic and always under pressure when they spin the ball wide.

If this is the teamwork he is looking for, then I do not see it succeeding in scoring tries. It is relatively easy to defend against and chews up great chunks of time, making very little progress along the way. Sure enough, it will allow the possession and territory stats to count in our favor, but the most important numbers i.e. the ones appearing on the scoreboard always seem to elude us.

I believe that the Lions need a MORE individualism and enterprise – that is the only way that lines are broken and opportunities created. We need someone to have a go at his opposite number and to create magic. This will never be achieved if we follow the same template phase after phase and when someone does decide to have a go, it is more often than not out of impatience and desperation and most likely the wrong option at that particular point in time.

I say, bring Andries Coetzee into the game more often, give Elton Jantjies a mandate to carry the ball more. The forwards need to split up more and spread themselves wider out in the field instead of hanging around in the flyhalf channel all the time. When the ball does go wide, they will be there to assist and maybe our outside backs will not find themselves isolated so often.

I say that it is more individuals who tip the scales in situations rather than a set game plan. Look at how Doppies la Grange dummied Stephan Terreblanche in the Currie Cup Final to break the line and set Killian up for our first try. Remember how Killian stunned the Sharks with his clean break in the 2nd half to set Taute up for his try. These were moments of magic by individuals, not set moves or templates to play within. The game plan must be the guide, but not the process. It must be a general direction, but not a specific instruction street by street; road by road. The players must have the discretion to take detours and short cuts and their teammates must be able to understand where this will be leading to and what they need to do as individuals to help.

To date the Lions have not been able to rectify their woes with the set pieces and injuries have not helped the situation. So far there has been no evidence of things improving yet and we can once again assume that we will be under pressure in the lineouts and in the restarts.

The Brumbies scored 5 tries to the Bulls 2 and still lost. This suggests that if the Lions do keep ball in hand as much as possible and play inside the Brumbies half that penalties may result. This could be a chance for Jantjies to increase his personal points tally and at least keep the visitors at bay. It therefore may have to be that the Lions will look for penalties as a means of winning as opposed to scoring tries. Not a popular tactic I’m sure, but certainly a realistic way of starting the game.

The Brumbies are a different side to the demoralized and chaotic team we smashed last year and I do not believe that the result will come our way so easily again. They are playing better rugby than us and by all accounts should beat us comfortably. Those are the facts and cannot be denied.

Sure, the Lions do have chance and should not be written off. I am however going with the pragmatic view that since there is no evidence of the Lions becoming a winning team at this point that our visitors will beat us by a margin of about 6 points.

Very sad and regrettable, but realistic.

33 comments to Lions Battle the Brumbies – Have a Go at Them Boys!

  • Lion86

    Can not agree with you LV. Individualism is like Minnie breaking the line against the cheetahs and he had no support. Teamwork with a gameplan would have resulted in a try. Killians break in the final came from him running a good line and getting a good pass. Taute scoring the try is also good support running which comes down to teamwork. We need to gell. Jantjies would break the line more if Hollenbach and the flanks run better lines next to him.

    Individualism is like when coetzee caught the ball and almost scored after running through the Bulls team.
    Tautes try in the semis against province was another example of teamwork and sticking to the gameplan.

    Sort the lineouts out and everything will work again. Thats it.

  • Insomniac2011

    Die enigste manier hoe ons games gaan begin wen, is as ons forward hul werk begin doen. n Mens kan nie jou eie lynstane verloor nie, jy kan nie na 4 fases n turnover afstaan nie, jy kan nie 80min lank defend nie.

  • Lions-Admirer

    There has been quite a few examples of individualism. Against the Hurricanes at least two spring to mind – Van Rensburg had Bezuidenhoudt outside him (who would have scored), instead he dummied and tried to run over the Hurricanes guy, Killian also broke clean through and had players on the outside – he was so indecisive that he passed the ball as he got tackled and it went forward.

    Another one would be Vd Merwe against the Crusaders when he dummied and tried to run over a guy and got held up, luckily Pat Cilliers scored just after. On defence players have to make tackles – against the Bulls someone missed Spies who could have been picked up with a simple pillar/post. Meyer against the Bulls when instead of passing the ball back to Coetzee or Jantjies for a kick tried to pass the ball to Strauss in his 22 when he wasnt expecting it – he was pulled off straight off after that. These are just a few – add the lineouts being woeful – individuals have to take responibility for that.

  • Insomniac2011

    Gee ons die stormers of bulls forwards, dan sal jul sien ons wen. Elke keer as ons die bal het en die spelers gaan grond toe, stress ek my gat af, want iemand gaan die bal steel. Niemand clean behoorlik nie. Hul is either te swak of te stadig.

  • Insomniac2011

    The best rugby the lions played so far, was the second half against the Stormers

  • Insomniac2011

    We have the kakkest forwards in Super rugby. Great individual skill, but sucks as a unit. Bad coaching? Me thinks so!

  • Lion86

    What made us good in the currie cup, is that every player knew what his job was and did it bloody well. No line was broken without support runners, our forwards actually cleaned and protected the ball.

    Gelling as a team can make even Zane “nick nacks”Kirchner look like a proper player. We need to play as a team. We hesitate with everything we do.

  • jacques 01

    My opinion guys. Let Franco and Cobus go. I’m sure Loffie wil accept them with open arms at Boland. How the hell did we let K Buys go and sit with CJ who never plays a game? I will be criticized but let me tell you before long we are losing guys like Jaco Kriel, Francois du Toit, Dreyer and decent locks because we keep on going with guys that’s just never good enough for Super rugby. It’s like we accepting the fact that we are going to end last and we’re hoping for a miracle from SANZAR. Agree continuity is important but it looks like JM is applying the same loyalty to sub-standard players that Loffie did and we know what happened to him. Look at what Jake did with a young unknown Brumbie side with almost no experienced. Come on guys it’s time to produce or go. No excuses, you either want to play or not. What irritates me the most is that if you look at these guys so relaxed as if nothing bothers them. They will just go to another franchise if the Lions don’t make the cut; well the way you are playing currently you will struggle to make any other team even the Kings. I think its attitude and if you fix this you will win. Jake said last week after a win at CCP it will be a successful tour. The Bulls let them back in; let’s send them back home with their tales between their legs. I know you can do it. Secure line out ball, protect the ball in open play and be accurate in your execution. We know you can do it so just go out there and give us a 5 pointer.

  • mufasa62

    I know every player in our team are trying their best, but i think every player needs to go and revisit their inner self and go back in time and remember what it was like to win the Currie Cup last season and just to remember how they did it and why they should believe in their abilities to work together as a team. The following story is applicable to our situation and to every player in our team. Read the whole story because there is a very important lesson to learn especially when it comes to the right attitude and “never give up” determination and the Rich rewards our team will reap if every single player apply this to themselves and work for each other as a unit and a team: HERE IS THE STORY:

    In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a
    Roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if
    Anyone would remove the huge rock.

    Some of the King’s’ wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by
    And simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the
    King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did
    Anything about getting the stone out of the way.

    Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
    Vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the
    peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the
    stone to the side of the road.

    After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded!!
    After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed
    a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.

    The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King
    indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the
    boulder from the roadway.

    The peasant learned what many of us never understand!
    Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our situation
    and our condition!

    The question now remains are we going to see every match from here on in as an obstacle? Or are we going to start seeing every match as an opportunity and start working together for each other as a team and reap the Rewards like we did to before we became Currie Cup champions!!!

  • Lion86

    I agree Jacques 01, a player like Cobus was brilliant back in the day, but time has passed. We held on to players who werent good enough and they didnt get any contracts from other unions for a reason. After everyone left in 2009 because of the appauling way our players were treated by the union, we were left with the scraps. Jano and Heinke stayed, but they also left. Mitch came in and developed players. We just need to hold on to these players and hope we dont get relegated. Mitch just needs to realize that the time has come for some players to step down and go to vodacom cup to help develope other young players. Cobus, Doppies and Franco can teach a hell of alot to the younger guys coming through in the vodacom cup and add the much needed experience.

    I know vodacom cup is there to develope youngsters, but you still want to win it and create that winning culture.

  • Den

    Sorry to disagree LV. We’re going to win this one! Notice,Stormers now being hit by the injury-bug.This competition has a very long way to go,and there are going to be lots of surprises and twists to come!!

  • Lions biggest issue for a while has been loyalty.

    But loyalty to the wrong players. The senior guys in the squad. We’ve lost so many young and exciting talent because of this.

    If we were a successful union then I can understand, but we have a losing culture, so hanging on to the same guys makes absolutely no sense.

    We have exciting and brilliant players in the mix. Bradley Moolman. Jaco Kriel, Ruan Botha. Garth April.

    Here is our biggest problem: We don’t currently in the side have world class locks, and we don’t have world class finishers on the wing.

    The rest we have! We underestimate the difference a quality second row makes to the side. Take the Stormers with Etsebeth and Bekker. The Bulls with Kruger and Flip.

    Both those side have brilliant finishers. Sharks have quality on the wing, but they also lack a quality second row.

    I’ve been calling for this for years. Give us three international quality SPECIALIST locks, and three quality finishers on the wing, and we will end top 6 at least.

  • mufasa62

    Willa i agree, that’s what i meant when i said our sponsors must help us in that regards to contract such quality player’s abroad like in europe or even japan when their contracts come to an end.

    The problem with such players in our own country is that they won’t be interested to come and play for the lions and that is my perception but maybe i am wrong. All i am saying is that we need to start doing something about this ASAP whether we get kicked out of S15 or not!!!

    We can’t wait for our fate and be worried about what might happen!! get to work now and do some planning and get the sponsors together and get them involved in the future of our union coaching staff and players it is their names that’s involved as well anyway and i am sure they want to see their names on the jerseys of a successful team as well!! so that if maybe we do stay in S15 next year we don’t sit with the same problems. It does not matter how you look at it whether we stay in S15 or go and play heinekin cup we need better quality players in the positions you mentioned!!

  • mags


  • Dewaldt

    I’ve said this before and ill say it again. Johan Ackerman was a lock.Regardless of where Franco plays he is regarded as a lock now.Last year he was lauded.He’s played 40 games at lock now but still struggles.Our lineouts not working is down to kak coaching. End of story.And yes for us Franco is a decent player.As a lock he’s behind Bekker,Kruger,Sykes,Etzebeth etc. As a 7 he’s behind Potgieter,Alberts,Deysel,Elstadt.Who are we fooling. Maku was 3rd choice at the Bulls,Rhodes barely made the bench at the Sharks….These are our Star Players.Time to either start developing youngsters or buy stars.I’m overusing Franco but he’s a good example.Why are we chasing away all the talented locks we have and keep on playing MEDIOCRE players out of position.I always back my team to win but its becoming increasingly frustrating to see people in the team whose not on form.You can’t play two fetchers with a flank at lock. Might work in a weak CC but not in SR.Deon as well. Always average,KAK finisher and doesn’t have the skills set to be a topclass winger.I for one hope that if we play kak again the Brumbies put 50 past us. Maybe that will be the call for drastic changes…

  • Lion4ever

    Problem is the guys play well for about 10-15 minutes, and then they go to sleep for the rest of the game. If the forwards mange to give the backs decent and quick front foot ball, then our backline can be dangerous. As has been said on numerous occassions, we need to win our line outs, hold on to our ball for more than 3 phases before we turn it over, and the we can start fracturing the defence.

    I am scared for this game. We will either win by a small margin, or lose by around 15.

  • Lions-Admirer

    Read this on Rugby 365 and though it gives a bit of insight, from Ackermann. Good to hear Greef isnt as serious as was thought, whilst Coetzer is out for a long time!!

    “The Lions tight five has suffered from a severe lack of consistency this year, and as a result forwards coach Johan Ackermann has called for them to ‘back each other’ and take collective responsibility as a pack this weekend.

    The No.4 jersey has been something of a curse in Johannesburg this season with Franco van der Merwe playing with a different lock partner each week, thanks to injuries and a shaky line-out which have combined to turn the second row into a revolving door.

    The latest blow came in the match against the Bulls when both Marius Coetzer and Stephan Greeff picked up injuries, leaving the Lions short on options as they contemplate taking on a well-drilled Brumbies outfit with a solid set-piece.

    Ackermann admitted in an exclusive interview with this website that the position has caused him plenty of stress so far this year.

    “It is not going well there, we obviously started badly with Wikus [Van Heerden] and Michael Rhodes out and from there on things did not get any better, it almost looked like I would have to pull on the boots again,” he quipped.

    Ackermann explained that while Coetzer’s injury is long term, there is hope for Greeff returning to the fray in the next few weeks.

    He said: “Marius [Coetzer] is out for a long time, I think about nine months to a year – he has done his cruciate ligaments in the knee.

    “Everyone though that Stephan had done his knee ligaments after looking at the footage, and the second fear was that he broke something but it was what they call a bone bruise where the bone got hit. Until he is pain free he cannot play, but they say that there is a strong possibility that he will be OK in the next week or two, so if we do need him overseas then we can always call him over,” added Ackermann.

    But that is not where the tight five injury woes end, on top of the loss of Springbok hooker Bandise Maku and prop JC Janse van Rensburg experienced prop CJ van der Linde has also been ruled out for a few weeks thanks to an injury he picked up at the recent Springbok training camp, which has put the young Lions pack under even more pressure.

    A major talking point has been the line-out which the Lions have pledged to sort out after frustratingly handing over far too much attacking possession to the opposition on a platter thanks to the misfiring set-piece.

    Ackermann said that while it will take a collective effort to sort the problem out, the key will be for hooker Callie Visagie to start finding his jumpers with more regularity, as that has been a particular weakness in recent weeks.

    He explained: “I think there is pressure on the whole pack and everybody must take responsibility in the line-outs but obviously Callie [Visagie], if you look at previous performances the call was good and the jumpers were in space but unfortunately we undercooked or overcooked the ball and missed the mark so there is some pressure on him.

    “I think that if they can back each other as a pack on the day and help each other from the lift to the jump to the throw it will go well. We worked hard on it this week and hopefully we will start well, everything is in the start – if they can get their confidence in the first few line-out then I think it will go well,” added the former Bok lock.

    One player who may provide some impetus is Maties forward Grant Hattingh who has been named on the bench for the clash with the Brumbies. Ackermann said that his form in the Varsity Cup, which saw him score seven tries playing at No.8 for the Stellenbosch side, had caught the Lions selectors’ eye, and added that it is now up to him to make the most of the opportunity.

    He said: “We have seen him in the Varsity Cup and he came to train with us this week and we liked what we saw in his athletic ability so hopefully he can match that with a good performance.

    “We are in the process of looking at giving him a short-term deal so that he can be with us for the remainder of the Super Rugby season, obviously if he uses this opportunity and he plays well then we will look at signing him on a longer term. So the ball is in his court now and he has got a great opportunity, and hopefully he will use it to play himself into a professional contract,” added Ackermann.

    Hattingh joins a host of former Maties in the Lions squad, and Ackermann admitted that the triple Varsity Cup champions have become a valuable source of talent for his team.

    “We are fortunate that guys like Joshua Strauss and Jacobie Adriaanse are old Maties, they are just like Tukkies and the other top varsities – they are a top quality institution that develops great players and I think credit to them and credit to Varsity Cup for what they give the players,” he said.

    Hattingh will provide lock cover, but is also at home at loose forward, which counted in his favour when the team to face the Brumbies was decided.

    “It definitely counted in his favour when we looked at the bench as we had a guy who is comfortable calling the line-outs if Franco has to go off. If our two locks go well and don’t look tired towards the end of the game he gives us the luxury of replacing another loose forward.

    “We have seen in the two days he has been with us that he has got great speed so I think he will be comfortable there [loose forward] and I think that the exposure that [Maties coach] Chean Roux gave him at No.8 will stand him in good stead,” said Ackermann.

    The forwards coach explained that the decision to play Derrick Minnie and Cobus Grobbelaar alongside one another on the flanks was driven by the belief that Minnie has developed into a genuine blindside flank who can also revert to playing openside if Grobbealaar is forced to leave the field.

    “Cobus is a great leader who has assisted Josh immensely since he became a regular in the side and Derrick is one of our ball-carriers who is also a line-out option. He has worked on his line-out jumping and catching skills in the last year so he is just as comfortable now at blindside as he was at openside so that is why we see him as a blindside and Cobus as an openside flank.

    “We know that if Cobus is not on the field then we can use Derrick as an openside as well, and we have also got Josh who is a quality No.8 that can also play blindside,” he explained

  • Kat

    In the CC you can use converted players and get away with it, but not in SR. In SR players must be top class in the position selected. This is why the Lions cannot get it right in SR. We just don’t have top class specialists. We have many generalists that can be used in several positions (more cost effective and good for CC but wont do in SR). We can’t keep on buying centres that can play “anywhere” in the backline. Unfortunately this happens when a team cannot afford specialists.

  • Dewaldt

    Amen @ Kat.

  • Dewaldt

    Do or Die.

  • canonharry

    @Kat generalists like judas Fourie has played bok rugby at 11, 14 13 and 15. JP Pietersen, Habana, W Alberts, Mark Andrews at 8 in 95 world cup final.BUT all has the x factor. Mediocrity and multi positions eqaul sub mediocre outcomes.

    Minie is not a 7 in a small pack being driven back at every breakdown.
    Play Kriel, Bothma, et al at 6, fire attitude and pace our loose trio has no speed !!
    our front row is small, thats ok if backed by huge locks, both smalll, are you madd.

    LV your review is brilliant and insightfull. Willa hooker, locks, loose trio combination and finishing/chase at wing is our problem areas.

  • Canon, if all are injury free then we have have the hooker, then we will have the correct loose trio combo.

    Only thing we lack if we have a full strength side is a awesome second row and quality finishers.

    I like the look of Visagie, think with great locks behind him and in line-out he might become really good.

    He is being blamed by the coaches for our line-out woes, which I think is unfair. The last season we’ve had three hookers and with all of them, our line-out struggled.

    When you buy a car and want to race with it, after three different drivers you still not achieving desired results, then simply you have a shitty car.

  • canonharry

    @ Willa…Mitchell said he also received some good news on players returning from injury before his team embark on their tour of Australasia after the weekend.

    “Paul Willemse is not quite right but he is not far away, and Ruan Botha is likely to make the tour,” he said.

    “So we’re getting some lock stocks back, but they are very young, so it is important not to expose them when they are not fully fit.”

    Our future Lock apirings must be from these youngsters and I include oosthuizen, augmented by big loosies that can double or bench ike, Rhodes and Hatting.
    Agree on hooker but my point is that you select teams?/combinations.
    and though individuals might be excellent certain combinations are silly, minnie baywatch for me is an example.

  • We have the talent, no arguments here, especially in Willemse. What an awesome prospect.

    Agree on Baywatch and Minnie combo. It’s stupid.

    Both similiar players, neither strong ball carriers. But the strangest with this selection, is we struggling at line-outs, yet they select two of the shortest players. We need extra length and extra options for Visagie to throw at.

    This just shows me they put all our line-out woes at Visagie’s feet.

    Especially with line-outs being such an attacking weapon these days, you need at least 4 options. We have two and Franco calls himself most of the time.

  • Castle

    Minnie is a blind side flanker???? What a load of crap. Our biggest problem with our forwards is that we have a clown like Ackerman coaching them. I can not understand why average fans knows that we need quality wings and locks but the men who gets paid to coach can’t figure it out. I said before the season we need to buy a quality wing from new zealand and get rid of kanama. Now we sit with a team who can’t score tries and can’t win their own line outs. Jantjies, Taute, Rhodes, Cilliers contract comes to an end this season. We won’t play SR again. They won’t resign and it will be the end of lions rugby before long. I hv started to accept that I will soon watch no more rugby. Thank you Ackerman and Co.

  • Blesbeer

    What is going on in the VC? Are we playing quarters? Against whick team?

  • Lion86

    CASTLE, it has frustrated me since Miur took over. We can see what needs to be done, why cant the management or coaches see it?

  • Bosveldleeu

    Lion86, Ive been frustrated since Kitch passed away….

    Kan ons a.s.b. net die nuwe laaitjie op 7 speel!!!!!
    en miskien Kriel op 6, Strafskop Minnie op die bench en Baywatch op pensioen. Erens moet daar nog ‘n slot wees, as Botha en Willemse gesond is saam met Roodt is ons reg dan kort ons nog net ‘n haker wat kan ingooi en ‘n stut.

    Ek se al lankal dat die leeus meer Pensionarisse op hulle boeke het as Old Mutual.

  • Insomniac2011

    What worries me is that players leave and is happy then to sit on the bench for other teams…we won the flippen currie cup, while they were sitting at home. We need to keep our players to get to the top. Im sick of reset, rebuilding, 3 year plans and young and inexperienced kak everytime. We have had a young team for how long now? We expose the players, build them into great Springbok prospects and then simply watch how other teams take them away. We all know the big list of old Lions players.

  • Insomniac2011

    The guys start good every game, because they are motivated and wants to win. After one mistake like turnovers, lineouts, knock on, missed tackle….the other team scores…..they feel under pressure and makes more mistakes and gives away penalties….opposition scores again, we make more mistakes and the guys stop believing and gives up because the score is to high to chase……..This thing happens for a whole season and the guys feel like leaving to get out of that shit.
    I feel thats why you need a good mix of experience and fresh new players.

  • Insomniac2011

    And thats where a Captain comes in, call the boys together and calm them down and motivate them.

  • Insomniac, jy ken jou rugga. Amper net so baie soos Bos.

  • Insomniac2011

    Hehe…rugby is my life!!

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