Young Lions building up a head of steam ahead of difficult away run



The young Lions team is building up a head of steam as they prepare for a tough and crucial run of away fixtures in both the United Rugby Championship (URC) and Challenge Cup over the next month and a half.

Since the international break the Lions have gone on a four-game unbeaten run, featuring three wins and a draw, that has spanned the URC and Challenge Cup competitions and they will hope that momentum gives them a good boost over the coming games.

READ MORE: Challenge Cup wrap – Mixed weekend for Lions and Cheetahs

The Lions start their away run with two games in South Africa, against the Sharks in Durban this week Friday and then against the Stormers in Cape Town next Saturday.

The Lions then kick off a tough four-match overseas run with a game against Munster in Ireland on the first weekend of January.

ALSO READ: Sharks march on, Stormers bounce back and Bulls falter in Champions Cup

The following two weekends they revert to the Challenge Cup, where they take on Stade Francais in Paris and the Dragons in Wales respectively.

They then end off their overseas tour with a URC clash against Connacht in Ireland, before finally returning home, where they will resume URC duties in mid-February.

Lions stand-in captain over the past weekend Jaco Kriel, who deputised in the absence of Reinhard Nothnagel who was rested, admitted that the team was in for a tough run of games and that they had to keep improving.

“There is still a lot of URC rugby to be played over the coming weeks, with the Challenge Cup in between and we are going on a long tour in January,” explained Kriel.

“We are a young team, which isn’t an excuse not to perform anymore, but we have to grow week by week and take it week by week. Otherwise if we look too far ahead we will lose focus of what we are supposed to work on in the build-up to each game.”

Plenty of work

Having beaten the Dragons and Scarlets in the URC, followed by a Challenge Cup draw against the Dragons and a win over Stade Francais, Kriel believes the team still has plenty to work on going forward.

“For me we are not firing on all cylinders yet. I thought we had a really good 20 to 30 minutes (against Stade Francais) and then it felt like we got over excited because of the space that was available,” he said.

“I thought we could have done better in the second half. We weren’t at our best and if Stade Francais had taken a few more chances they could have punished our mistakes. In this competition we have to be better. We have to be patient in what we do and back the plan.”


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