I know it's tough to make all the right calls but I feel that some in crucial spots really cost us
Lions' captain Josh Strauss was not all that happy with referee Mark Lawrence's performance at Newlands on Saturday.
Speaking after the Stormers had beaten the Lions 27-17, Strauss expressed his frustration at Lawrence's application of the law at the breakdowns.
"It was very frustrating," Strauss felt.
"They got a little bit of momentum at the breakdowns with some of the calls and I don't think all of them were fair. I know it's tough to make all the right calls but I feel that some in crucial spots really cost us."
Asked how difficult a week it had been for the Lions with head coach John Mitchell having been suspended - primarily apparently because of the players' unhappiness with him - Strauss said he believed the Lions had shown in the Currie Cup last year that they are a team who "pull together and play for each other".
"With all the injuries early in the year we struggled to get that continuity going but we believe in each other and play for each other.
"We just came out this week and we said we're going to do it for each other. We're going to enjoy it and play our game."
Commenting on how the Lions could turn narrow defeats into victories, Strauss said the team needed "a little bit of luck and just keeping our heads on defence".
He added: "It's difficult when some calls don't go your way but you have to play to how the ref is blowing.
"I think especially at the end of the first half we didn't keep our heads even though some calls [by referee Lawrence] I felt weren't totally fair. I think we as a team should've played towards Mark's calling of the game and we should've kept our heads."
Johan Ackermann, promoted from forwards' coach to acting head coach in Mitchell's absence, said he was happy with his players' performance.
"It was 13-10 with about 12 minutes to go. We were on their tryline and that turnover there basically swung the game because we made a mistake not catching the ball and they ended up on our tryline.
"Until then I thought we were in [with the opportunity] to win the game. I'm very proud of the guys' effort."
Rookie Super 15 fullback Ruan Combrinck - who replaced the injured Andries Coetzee in the 11th minute - made errors which were costly to the Lions, but Ackermann felt it was just a case of an inexperienced young player being very nervous, and the coach believed the youngster to be a quality player.
In Ackermann's view, the off-field drama concerning Mitchell had not been too disruptive.
"I must give credit to the players. They tried to focus on what was needed to be done."
He added cheerfully: "The difficult part was that suddenly I had to think about more than scrums and line-outs!"
"We shared the load of planning the week ahead but the good thing was that we tried to keep it comfortable for the players with the routine that they know, so that they could try to achieve maximum performance."
The Lions were looking forward to playing against the Melbourne Rebels in Johannesburg on Saturday.
"We've got a plan in place for them. We'll tweak one or two things but not major.
"If you look at this game, they'll see what we all saw. If you kick behind us, we make some mistakes, so we'll have to fix that, and then once we fix that we can be more clinical in the attacking 22 and I think it'll go well."
By Len Kaplan, at Newlands