Very few sides can bounce back from 36 missed tackles – and only a third of the territorial stakes before halftime – and still win at Super Rugby level. The Lions couldn’t do that and lost their first tour match in Australasia 20-31 to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
For all the improvement elsewhere, this figure made the Lions pay in a lost match (20-31) that was probably won in the first half when the home side controlled more than two-thirds of the territory and their share of the possession.
The difference in the defence department is probably best showed by the following: The was that the home side missed 28 from 185 tackles (15%) while the Lions missed 28 times form 154 attempts.
The Lions turned around 7-19 behind in 40m minutes of handling errors by both sides as the adversaries both pout the emphasis on carrying the ball.
Overall the Lions played much, much better than last weekend when they were thrashed 5-42 on their home ground, but as Saturday’s score and the stats show, but Swys de Bruin’s side is very far from where they want to be and should be.
There are enough remaining matches (eight) to turn around their four losses from eight matches, but it is probably a little hasty to venture that they will get close to a home play-off spot or any play-off at all.
With eight matches played, the Lions have now lost four. They are still on 18 league points, as are the Bulls and Stormers with log leaders Sharks on 21.
To record wins, the Lions will have to bolster their defence. Their 29 tries conceded is the fourth most in the competition thus far with only the Sunwolves (39) Chiefs (34) and the Brumbies (32) but with their one match not played after the Christchurch shootings and declared a draw) who have conceded more tries.
What was especially disappointing on Saturday, were the many loose passes were thrown, knock-ons aplenty and that two lineouts and two scrums were lost.
The breakdown worked well, with the Lions winning 102 from where they could and often did attack but with some poor options or handling nullifying the forwards efforts.
♦ The Lions second half was a huge improvement, and the Lions crept closer to 15-19 before after 50 minutes following an opportunistic pick-up try from a dropped ball y Elton Jantjies who converted.
However, the Brumbies broke loose, and scored two more tries within five minutes and Sylvian Mahuza’s try after 69 minutes was nothing more than a consolation.
Brumbies (19) 31: Tries: Lachlan McCaffrey, Toni Pulu, Tevita Kuridrani, Tom Banks, Tom Wright. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3).
Lions (8) 20: Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Sylvian Mahuza. Conversion: Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies.