Lions happy to embrace underdog tag

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 09:37

SUPER RUGBY BUILD-UP: The Lions head to Newlands on Saturday to take on the table-topping Stormers with the 'underdog' tag firmly around their necks.

Lions coach Swys de Bruin said that they are well-aware of the form and quality of a Stormers team that last weekend ended the Chiefs' unbeaten run.

Saturday's outing is seen as one of the most crucial encounters of the season in the two African conferences.

However, the Lions are not putting additional pressure on themselves to upstage one of the form teams of the competition.

"We approach every game on its merits," De Bruin told rugby365, adding: "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves."

He pointed out that the Lions have never won a Super Rugby match at Newlands.

Their best result was a 19-all draw in 2015.

The Cats - the unhappy marriage between the Lions and Cheetahs - did win in Cape Town in 1999 and 2001.

"We also played them in a pre-season friendly at Newlands [Stormers beat Lions 57-40] and that game showed me they have made a massive step up," De Bruin said.

"It is no secret that we are the underdogs at Newlands on Saturday."

De Bruin said the biggest change from the Stormers version of 2016 to this year is that the Cape Town franchise are "playing much more".

"They were in a defensive mindset for a long time," the Lions backline coach said, adding: "Now they play [more expansive] and you have to watch them the whole time."

He admitted the Lions were forced into an arm-wrestle in their last encounter with the Sharks (a 34-29 win), but felt the Newlands showdown will provide them with a very different challenge.

"They [the Stormers] play a very different brand than the Sharks - they play a more expansive game.

"They have three very fast loose forwards, where the Sharks have three physical loose forwards.

"They also have big backs. EW Viljoen and Robert du Preez are big players. Even Dillyn Leyds, while not the most muscular, is also a big player.

"The big difference is the change in style.

"I said that to [Stormers coach] Robbie Fleck, when we chatted after the pre-season friendly.

"He said that is their main goal, [to be more expansive].

"What is important that our ball control is not good yet.

"When it comes to tries and line-breaks we are not bad.

"However, we have to protect the ball much better against the Stormers. If you make a mistake, they are lethal on the counter-attack.

"We certainly won't deviate from the Lions' normal approach."

De Bruin also felt the Lions have been nowhere near their best this year.

"Last year we had a steady tour - when we beat the Chiefs in New Zealand, which was great.

"However, we only hit our straps in the second half of the season. We had a few arm-wrestles [in 2016] and it was like Test rugby at times.

"We certainly did not fire from the outset. People remember three or four good games, but a closer look will show we had a few real arm-wrestles - like we had against the Sharks.

"Look at the Chiefs, they played great rugby [last Saturday] and still lost to the Stormers.

"[Chiefs coach] Dave Rennie said afterwards they are disappointed, but it was a great game of footy."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
Sat, 03 June 2017
Crusaders v Highlanders 02h35 Christchurch
Chiefs v Waratahs 05h05 Hamilton
NZ Barbarians v B&I Lions 07h35 Toll Stadium
Brumbies v Rebels 09h45 Canberra
Force v Hurricanes 11h35 Perth
Sun, 04 June 2017
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v France U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Australia U20 v Samoa U20 09h30 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
England U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 54 | 10
Sat, 27 May 2017
Jaguares v Brumbies 15 | 39
Munster v Scarlets 22 | 46
Sharks v Stormers 22 | 10
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 20 | 23
Bulls v Hurricanes 20 | 34
Rebels v Crusaders 19 | 41
Highlanders v Waratahs 44 | 28
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 7 | 47
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 12 5 0 7 28
Waratahs 12 4 0 8 19
Force 12 4 0 8 17
Reds 12 3 0 9 16
Rebels 12 1 1 10 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 13 13 0 0 59
Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 48
Highlanders 13 10 0 3 45
Chiefs 12 9 1 2 45
Blues 13 6 1 6 33
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 0 5 34
Cheetahs 13 3 0 10 16
Bulls 12 3 0 9 15
Sunwolves 12 1 0 11 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 12 0 1 56
Sharks 13 9 1 3 42
Jaguares 12 5 0 7 24
Kings 12 4 0 8 19