Van Rooyen will stick to conservative tactics against the Bulls

Despite recent win Lions need to up their game, says coach

Tiaan Swanepoel of the Lions scoring a try during the Carling Currie Cup match between Phakisa Pumas and Xerox Lions at Mbombela Stadium on December 02 2021 in Nelspruit.
Tiaan Swanepoel of the Lions scoring a try during the Carling Currie Cup match between Phakisa Pumas and Xerox Lions at Mbombela Stadium on December 02 2021 in Nelspruit.

If the Lions want to secure a home Carling Currie Cup semifinal, they will have to up their game against the Bulls on Wednesday, coach Ivan van Rooyen said.

The Lions’ set piece was not totally convincing when the Johannesburg side scrambled to a 33-25 win over the Pumas in Nelspruit.

The victory means the Lions, with 33 points after 11 games, have moved into third spot on the log behind leaders the Bulls (35 points) and Western Province (35).

Fullback Tiaan Swanepoel was the star of the show for the Lions, scoring two tries and kicking four penalties.

One of the players who made life difficult for the Lions at scrum time was one of their former players, Darrien Landsberg, who excelled in the second row.

Landberg’s efforts against his former teammates earned him praise from Van Rooyen.

“We're very familiar with Darrien and he knows our system quite well too for obvious reasons,”  Van Rooyen said.

“In addition Pumas loose head) Morgan Naude also had an excellent season, so we were definitely primed for a big clash in the set pieces.

“I'm really happy for Darrien; it's been a good move for him to go to the Pumas.

“That said, we've maintained throughout that we believe set pieces are one of our strengths, so we'll definitely have to have a good look at things.

“We were really proud of the win and the character we showed, but a bit disappointed with the performance itself.

“The Pumas did really well to consistently disrupt our rhythm.

“It was a good occasion to try to be a bit abnormal and try different things in terms of our playing style.

“If things went a bit different, we might've considered changing the plan for the Bulls, but I think this result against the Pumas will force us to be a bit more conservative.

“Hopefully we can tire the Bulls enough for the Pumas to pounce against them next weekend.”

After another impressive display Swanepoel can expect to have a target on his back at Loftus Versfeld.

Earlier in the competition, the 24-year-old was in brilliant form kicking five penalties, including an effort from 61 metres, to lead his team to a 22-19 win over WP.

“We know what Tiaan can do with his boot,” Van Rooyen said.

“He kicked a 70-metre kick the other day in training so we know that it is a weapon for us.

“We knew that he had it distance-wise and there was some nice BMT (big match temperament) from Tiaan.

In other matches at the weekend WP scored a last gasp 31-29 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the Sharks notched a 47-19 win over Griquas in Durban.

It took an 81st-minute penalty from flyhalf Tim Swiel to subdue a stirring challenge from the Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium.

WP now remain on track for a home semifinal at Newlands, while the defeat sank hopes that the Cheetahs could sneak into the semis.

This week’s fixtures:

Wednesday: Bulls v Lions 4.30pm.

Saturday: Griquas v Cheetahs (4.30pm), Western Province v Sharks (4.30pm).

Sunday: Pumas v Bulls (4:30pm).



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