Nano error, Nanai intercept

Oom Rugby

Hi guys. It is a pity the Lions lose this weekend. They still by far our best South African franchise but unfortunately just lose focus and accuracy at critical times against the Blues.

When we talk about moments that swing matches we do not always mean a big thing like a miss kick or a miss tackle. No, the real poison is usually just many small mistakes that leads to big problems. Let us look below…

The Lions is ahead by 11 points with 6 minutes left and they make a big carry through Marx. They running the ball and that is fine, because three Blues is waiting back for a kick, so there is space. But the first problem we see is that Kwagga does not seal properly over the ball. As the openside, this is his job, but he is unfortunately very inaccurate and go right over the ruck. Dyanti come in to be the 9.

Now we see the consequence of Kwagga’s poor seal. Dyanti have no protection, so the Blues 8th man Ioane is able to attempt a counter ruck. The problem of that is that Orie and Smith came up for a big carry but had to stop because the ball was not available.

A big secret of the Lion phase play is how they time their runs. Unfortunately, as we see, this is a delicate thing, and by Ioane slowing the ball this carry have been neutralised.

Now Ross Cronje arrive after being held back at a previous ruck. With Orie and Smit static, he decide to play the ball wider to Coetzee. But the problem now is that this carry by Orie and Smit was actually quite important – it was meant to pull in Blues defenders before the Lions goes wide. Specifically take a look at the Blues lock Scrafton.

Coetzee get the ball and play out to the second pod of Adriaanse and Erasmus in midfield. But there is problems developing… Because the Blues has enough men in midfield defence (after Scrafton join them) Sonny Bill Williams is free to shoot up and play the umbrella role.

And here is the critical moment. Adriaanse get ready to play out the backdoor to Elton, with Mostert running a decoy line to “fix” the edge defender. But because the Blues has enough men, the edge defender is no longer Sonny Bill, it is the prop Tamoaieta. So Sonny Bill is free to leave his post and attack the backdoor option, Elton.

And this is exactly what happen. Williams shoot and catch Elton deep behind the advantage line. With Sonny Bill in his face, Elton try a high-risk manoeuvre to bat the ball over his head to Vorster, but Nanai intercept and the Blues will score.

So where does it leave us? We see how small errors of technique and judgement can lead to big problems. Maybe we can say that, with the Blues needing points and playing so aggressive, the Lions was better off playing tighter and more clever?

Or if Kwagga sealed the ball properly then Dyanti can pass to the first charging carriers Orie and Smit to suck in more Blues defenders.

Maybe a team leader must intervene and tell the team not to risk this kind of wide play unless quick ball and good odds has first been established.

Perhaps Elton could have seen the situation developing in midfield and communicated to Adriaanse to rather carry.

Anyway, it is easy to say from my couch! I do not necessarily want to point fingers (all players and all teams makes mistakes) but I want to show how small things can cost you in a big way.

We trust the Lions has a strong group and team ethic to come back from this no problem, and to bring that focus and execution to every small action and decision.

DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans.

- Oom Rugby

Let's chat

  • gerhard van tonder gerhard van tonder

    I missed leadership in this game with Whiteley off the pitch. Another example was where, on a Marx throw in deep in Lions half, he throws short to Kwagga in front of the line-out, Kwagga breaks away and then spilled a 50-50 pass to Marx, Lions lost ball and Blues score. Why not just a defensive lineout to 4 and Jantjies kick into the corner with a good defensive line to protect territority. Sometimes in rugby its good to be boring. This was a humbling experience for the Lions. Maybe needed. Lucky early in season.

  • Oom

    yes agree gerhard. Need a captain who can read the tactical situation , the context and weigh up the odds to make the most sensible decisions.

    • Spartan

      Oom can you analyse the Lions drift defence for us? Blues made a lot of metres out wide because of it. I felt that we could’ve pressed more to close space but we didn’t.

  • humblepie

    One has got to be so careful during post mortems on how much attention is given to mistakes or incorrect decisions. The Lions play a higher risk, free style of rugby that will occasionally involve mistakes. Most of the time however, they get it right and their coaching staff will be careful not to focus on negativity or fault finding – it is an attitude that separates them from the other local teams.
    I share the view that it may be a neccessary (and early) wake-up call that everything is not always plain sailing.
    I suspect that Swys will focus on the mental aspects of the the Blues game, on leadership and continued self belief rather than trying to pinpoint a specific decision that went wrong.
    I have a gut feeling that they will bounce back hard and will once again be a strong contender come the play-offs.

  • Alek

    Oom, this was a truly fascinating read. Well done on a great analysis.

  • Dean

    They absolutely butchered this game. How can you go ahead by 18 points and then still lose? It’s ridiculous. The SA teams better shape up or we going to find ourselves without a team in the top 4 this year. The Sharks and Stormers both threw games away against the Waratahs, weak opposition. The same can be said for the Bulls against the Reds. Where’s the calm heads, where’s the leadership on and off the field! What do these guys get paid for!

  • Andrew de Blocq

    Oom, did you come up with this title yourself? It’s quite the turn of phrase for someone using their third language – lekker man!

  • Nick.

    Oom writes ANOTHER well thought through article. Thanks.
    Isolating this ‘small’ matter of the breakdown is very useful when we think of what the ideal ‘6’ is. As Oom says, it was Quagga’s [who is a phenomenal player] primary job to look after that ball.

    Kudos to the two Blues players who disrupted that ball. Sonny Bill’s reading of the situation too.

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