Lions coach bemoans team’s defensive performance

Lions coach John Mitchell bemoaned his side’s defence in their 34-20 loss against the Brumbies in a Super Rugby match at Ellis Park on Friday evening.

It was their sixth consecutive defeat of the season and life is unlikely to get any easier on their four-week tour of Australasia which starts next week.

“It was our worst defensive performance of the season, we weren’t effective in the tackle in the first two areas that they hit and they basically breached and we didn’t fold,” Mitchell said.

“We gave them too much turnover ball; they won the breakdown fair and square.”

Mitchell gave credit to the Brumbies and said they found gaps too easily because of his side’s defective defence.

Folding defence
“I think the Brumbies were outstanding and they hurt us in carry and hurt us in our folding defence,” he said.

“They got enough breaches in that first half and they kept hold of their ball and scored. When we breached we lost our ball.”

He felt the Brumbies targeted the channel between flyhalf Elton Jantjies and inside centre Alwyn Hollenbach who could not handle the pressure.

“They are a good side, they got into our midfield, certainly 12 and 10 could have been more effective in tackle and they kept on coming the same way.”

The hosts also employed a kick-and-chase tactic in the first half which lacked proper execution as the kicks were not followed-up properly to put pressure on the receivers.

Mitchell said his charges struggled to deal with the tough periods during a match in the same way as the leading sides in the competition which would come with more experience.

“So I guess that is an element of our own inexperience in certain positions and a lack of team coherence as a result. Unfortunately we have to get through these tough periods of the performance, because they do happen in a football match.”

The Johannesburg-based side’s captain Joshua Strauss said his team’s character towards the end of the end of the match was encouraging.

“I think we started out excellently, great energy I was very proud of the boys at the end, they showed character and fought till the end,” said Strauss.

“But I think in the middle there was little execution: things like losing the restart really let us down and you can’t play rugby in your own 22.” Strauss said they would not throw in the towel despite their sixth consecutive loss of the season.

“We are obviously disappointed when we lose but we all enjoy it (rugby), I’ll come back every week even if I lose just to play rugby, I love the sport,” he said.

“I am disappointed at losing but we’ll stick to our guns and play till the last game.” — Sapa

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