Lions good, Chiefs better?

The Lions kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Stormers 41-22 in a fast-paced local derby in Johannesburg on Saturday evening – their first win over a South African team this year.

Only leading by 3 at the interval, the men from Jozi accelerated their efforts in the second half to post what became a comprehensive victory.

Kwagga Smith (2), Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Hacjivah Dayimani crossed the chalk while new flyhjalf Shaun Reynolds kicked four conversions and one penalty goal.

Smith was a menace in open play, of which there was plenty (something the visitors would come to rue) while Malcolm Marx once more led from the front by putting in a great shift.

Instead of pulling a “Sharks” and trying to shut down the home side, the Stormers seemed intent on trying to match the Lions in an open and expansive game. But they failed.

Despite being edged in the possession and territory stats, the Lions made full use of the space on offer, dominating the carries, metres run, line breaks, tackle breaks, and offloads on their way to six scintillating tries.

In comparison with the stats out of what many might deem to be the match of the weekend, if not the season, the Chiefs also scored 6 tries in their win against log leaders Crusaders in Suva, Fiji. And while also dominating the attacking stats, the Chiefs made close on 20 fewer carries than the Lions, and more than 300m LESS with ball in hand. Choosing instead to kick 14 more times than the Lions, and make those 300m via the boot!

It speaks to the Kiwi side’s more astute use of the boot, often looking to contest said ball, and hence their more efficient use of the ball when in hand.

Up front at Ellis Park, the Stormers decision to play converted flank, Cobus Wiese, at lock, with no lock on the bench, came back to bite them badly when both Wiese and Eben Etzebeth were forced from the field due to injury. Playing new hookers, both fairly light, only added to their woes, especially when starting hooker, Chad Solomon, was forced into playing flank in the second stanza. The result was a scrum that was on roller skates – 3 lost scrums and 2 (deserved) scrum penalties, despite sporting 3 incumbent Springbok props.

The Lions host the Hurricanes next weekend at Ellis Park, while the Stormers return to Cape Town where they will host the Sunwolves in the late Saturday afternoon clash. 

A look at the match stats from Ellis Park:

Match information:

  • Points: LIO 41-22 STO
  • Tries: LIO 6-3 STO
  • Penalty goals: LIO 0-2 STO
  • Goal kicking %: LIO 71% – 75% STO
  • Possession: LIO 49% – 51% STO
  • Territory: LIO 47% – 53% STO
  • Ball in play: 34 minutes

Attacking stats:

  • Ball Carries: LIO 123-101 STO
  • Metres run: LIO 999-653 STO
  • Metres per carry: LIO 8.1-6.5 STO
  • Line breaks: LIO 9-2 STO
  • Tackle breaks: LIO 8-3 STO
  • Passes: LIO 178-139 STO
  • Good Passes: LIO 92-158 STO
  • Offloads: LIO 17-6 STO
  • Rucks won: LIO 74-73 STO
  • Mauls won: LIO 2-6 STO
  • Turnovers conceded: LIO 14-11 STO

Defensive stats:

  • Tackles made: LIO 137-135 STO
  • Tackles missed: LIO 22-33 STO
  • Dominant tackles: LIO 16-13 STO
  • Tackle success: LIO 88% – 82% STO
  • Tackle turnover: LIO 1-1 STO
  • Turnovers won: LIO 1-4 STO

Kicking stats:

  • Kicks from hand: LIO 16-15 STO
  • Metres kicked: LIO 617-492 STO
  • Metres per kick: LIO 39-33 STO

Error stats:

  • Handling errors: LIO 14-13 STO
  • Penalties conceded: LIO 10-9 STO (2 from scrums)
  • Yellow cards: LIO 0-0 STO

First phase stats:

  • Lineouts won: LIO 11-10 STO
  • Lineouts stolen: LIO 1-0 STO
  • Scrums won: LIO 1-6 STO
  • Scrums lost: LIO 0-3 STO
  • Own Kickoff won: LIO 0-0 STO
  • Own Kickoff lost: LIO 5-8 STO

While in Suva, Fiji: Chiefs vs Crusaders

  • Ball in play: 34 minutes
  • Tries: CHI 6-4 CRU

Attacking stats:

  • Ball Carries: CHI 104-99 CRU
  • Metres run: CHI 680-634 CRU
  • Metres per carry: CHI 6.5-6.4 CRU

Kicking stats:

  • Kicks from hand: CHI 30-26 CRU
  • Metres kicked: CHI 936-761 CRU
  • Metres per kick: CHI 31-29 CRU

- Tank Lanning

Let's chat

  • Albert

    Fair play to the Lions, they really brought their A-Game against an injury ravaged and naive Stormers outift. And in doing so, the Lions won their first SA Derby of the year, so congrats on that.

    It must be said though, the Stormers injury woes have hit hard and with a limited coaching group, the poor young guys stood no chance. How can there be no locks on the bench? Absolute joke from the coaching group there.

    Glad Swys is over his stress related illness now, he came back and showed whats been missing thus far. Not a rebuilding team, but rather a coach who lost the plot early in the season.

    No doubt the bigot will come on here, guns blazing with I told you so’s and that arrogance he has come accustomed to.

    • Herman

      They actually also beat the Stormers in the first round until Seconds decided to keep going until the home team won. Derbies however are never a measure of a good side. Dom krag playing dom krag proves nothing. The Lions have won 7 of their 8 wins against overseas teams including the Jags home and away which is far more telling. Agree however with your take on Fleck and Du Preez can be added to that. Thanks for the congrats as well. Cheers.

    • Wesley

      Albert, all teams are injury ravaged and will to some extent be naive in key positions. I find it strange in rugby, when the team a person roots for loses, and they have many injuries or lost key personel, forced to play their “B team”, people make excuses and downplay the winning team achievement in some way. Im not saying its not a valid reason for losing, and no shame in that, but you field the best you have and thats the match for the day. We see it alot, especially people who would like to cast aspirations on e.g the Boks against anybody, and when they win, you see the “argh they played the B team bla bla” comments fly when there are such things to use as excuse. Who cares, at the end, thats the team that played and thats the team that lost. Take it on the chin, move on. I bet no proper team will use it as an excuse, even if it sounds valid. You may think it, but do not say it.

      • Albert

        Thanks for that enlightening comment. I never blamed the loss on a B-Team, I blamed the loss on a poor coach who is unable to prepare the young guys for the task. Appreciate that you simply used my post a conduit to write your comment on people blaming B-Teams, but you definitely got the wrong end of my stick. It was a factor that losing so many players, but the main factor is the coach.

        Also notice the first thing I said was a congratulations to the Lions for bringing their A-Game. What I do think and will say is that you should read people’s comments properly before you add anything else on.

        • Wesley

          I read it, and clearly. In the same sentence you congrats the Lions, you cast the reason you believe they lost as a team that is injury ravaged and naive. Or am i blind? How can that not be attributed to a “B team” excuse? Fleck being a bad coach is the least of their worries. If so then you believe they would have won if all players were available, which is very rare to happen in this day and age. Even with most of their best on matchday, they have been woeful this season which i myself is also very worried about as a Bok supporter. You play with what you have, people should stop clarifying their statements of loss with “we had injuries” and “not the best we have”. What you have on the day is the best you have. Finish and klaar

  • Barry

    They say that in rugby it is the team that are able to create mismatches that are able to win the day – wings stepping props, scrum halves tackling locks.

    Not a truer word spoken this week, though the mismatches were off the field and presented in the form of: Robbie Fleck and Swys de Bruin and Plumtree on Du Preez.

    It would probably not ruffle too many feathers to suggest that the loosing teams in both fixtures were more adequately equipped with class players than the winning sides, but with consistent regularity, their coaches have been unable to motivate their players nor devise a strategy to counter their opponents!

    • Herman

      Agreed. Fleck and Du Preez have been failures from year one and why they were not replaced is quite astounding. Administrators and boetie boetie politics just as much to blame. Hence my ongoing frustration with SA rugby. We just don’t seem to learn from our mistakes and here I include the Boks. Cheers.

  • John Comyn

    Agree a really good effort from the Lions. The Stormers coaching staff can’t be blamed for locks on the bench. There are no locks available and they are forced to double with loose forwards. Hell at one stage they had to play the 4th choice hooker to accommodate the 3rd choice hooker at 7. What were the chances they would lose both locks in the game?

  • Barry

    Would it be totally off the mark to suggest that the Lions looked a lot better without Alton Jantjies in the mix?

    One wonders if there had not been politics on the go for some time and that the team was in a better position to gel and focus without the back room stuff to worry about?

    • Wesley

      Perhaps, but to plainly drop a player that has been a fixture in the team for years would be even worse for the team morale. You play the risk of ego and performance sometimes for high reward. Elton is that kind of guy. High risk, but high reward. Would you have dropped Aaron Smith completely after his toilet tryst?

      • Barry

        Unless said player is creating a background storm, which his suspension and press feedback seem to support.

        I can understand his angst, he is way Senior to Kwagga, but didn’t get the captains arm band, I wonder why?

  • Herman

    Yes totally off the mark Barry. Until we know what the problem was it is unfair now to blame him for the problem and the slow start this season. There were numerous factors involved and the team is finally taking shape. Swys with so many newbies and injuries obviously tried to play more conservatively at the beginning of the season which did not work out too well. Part of the learning curve I suppose.

    Swys’s meltdown no doubt due to the high expectations for the team after the past three years which was not working out too well. This may have boiled over off the field as well. Elton’s contribution to the Lions success over the years cannot be overlooked just because they have struggled this year. He has more than proved himself. Cheers.

    • Barry

      I doubt we’ll ever get the full picture, but it is a little too coincidental to not be linked.

      Alton disobeyed an on field instruction from his Captain the previous week, which paints a clear picture of a power struggle. It seems pretty clear to me!

  • Herman

    As promised the cream slowly rising to the top again. Going to love the last two derby games with everything to play for for all the sides. But PLEASE bring in neutral refs and match officials from overseas. Imagine Seconds reffing the Stompies and the Sharkettes at Newlands. Seconds may need some security cover if things don’t go well for the Stompies.

    But folks please note that the two ‘expansive’ teams are currently I and 2 on the Conference log. Who would have thought. Cheers.

    • Barry

      I wouldn’t get too windy Hermie, you have the Hurricanes this weekend and on the basis of sports “collateral form” the Bookies will not give the Lions too much hope.

      The logic of collateral form says that the Sharks beat the Lions twice and the Hurricanes beat the Sharks, so quite simply the Hurricanes will easily beat the Lions! Chat Monday week. Lol

      • Herman

        Yes let’s see how the Sharkettes go against the Jags. We beat them twice and you beat us twice so you should walk this one by maybe 30 points clear. Not so sure about your try bonus point though, tries still very hard to come by in Sharkland. Good luck. Cheers.

        PS : Time to move your rugby to the stadium across the road, you guys definitely don’t enjoy home town advantage at KP. Or rename it Queen’s Park. Another Cheers.

  • Barry

    No excuses for the Sharks loss, but not happy with the Mallet “chirp”. He has made quite a meal of the niggle that there was between the sides and in particular between the two Captains.

    TJ Perenara is renowned for his chirp and sledging whilst Schreuder certainly is not! Why then Mr Mallet do you not put this in context, offering some support for the SA side, particularly having in mind Perenara’s track record. I wonder if it had been Province that were subjected to it, whether he would have been as outspoken?

    There were other avenues of the game that certainly deserved their focus, such as the poor blowing of the breakdown by the Australian whistle! I am not sure that there was a single occasion that Ardie Savea was “supporting his own body weight” at the breakdown – surely this was a more worth point of contention?

    • BBA

      To be fair I don’t think that Savea was doing anything that other prolific ball stealers have been doing all year, for example Malcolm Marx. (I certainly have no problem with Marx, if he says the ball he gets it and forces the ref to make a decision, which is not unlike a Ritchie McCaw / George Smith type player).

      The problem has been that for whatever reason the refs seem to be giving a conscious benefit of the doubt to the defending players not supporting their own body weight.

      At the end of the day you have two choices, either adapt to the way the refs are calling on it or accept losses, but hold the high moral ground and place your hope that someone else fixes this issue.

      • Barry

        Thanks for that BBA. If you have a chance have a re-look at the way Ardie stole the ball against the Sharks, or you’ll probably get another look at it this weekend against the Lions.

        His technique is very different to Marx. Malcom has a wide leg stance and doubles over at the waist in a legal fashion, so his upper body does a full 180•. He is difficult to move because of the wide leg stance, but it is not impossible!

        Savea’s upper body goes to 90• and he lies on top of other players to poach the ball. He is not supporting his own body weight and is impossible to move because he is effectively lying flat!

        It is well and good saying the defending players should adapt to this, but the reality is that the person who needs to adapt is the ref. There is one set of rules and they should all be blowing them!

        • BBA

          Barry, I guess I see Marx doing similar things on occasion and not getting called for it either. PS This is certainly not just a Marx thing and something that happens all the time. However, it certainly is not being called very often this year by the refs. Probably was also a smart time to take a few liberties with refs under pressure in SA after some earlier anomalies, so the 50/50 calls might have been more likely to go the away teams way.

          I actually see the Canes and Lions packs as being very similar, both tend to be not as large as some of the bigger packs going round but combat this by going hard for the ball (both prefer to grab the ball when the opportunity presents itself, rather than wait for permission), they both want quick ruck speed and like to handle the ball in open play.

          I do agree that the issue ultimately rests with the refs, but don’t see any easy answers, Im not sure more Touch Judge and Video ref calls are the answer, unless they get better. However, if the refs are not going to call it get it out of the laws of the game.

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