Defensive prowess hasn’t been the Lions’ strong suit in recent years, but a strong defensive effort in the closing stages of an unexpected 28-27 URC win over Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday night will instil some much-needed confidence.
Jaque Fourie, the Lions’ defence coach, has had a difficult year in his first full-time coaching job as he and his troops strive to establish an efficient system.
In fact, they still conceded four goals in this game, but by the start of the second half, there had been a dramatic improvement in their marking, which would ultimately play a crucial role in their victory.
Following a shaky debut against the Bulls last weekend, midfielder Marius Louw set the tone with 14 tackles.
The Lions were also pleased with winger Edwill van der Merwe’s excellent, game-winning try, which came after a slick build-up that featured some superb interplay between replacement props and siblings JP and Ruan Smith.
“There is more belief in ourselves and what we are doing, what we tried in preseason, how we want to play and represent,” Van Rooyen said.
“This is a good away win against a fantastic Ospreys team. It’s obviously beneficial to begin the tour with a victory. We’d go through five, six, seven different phases and really look menacing. These two areas will be of particular importance to us this week. I’m extremely proud of the boys’ efforts.”
The key now for the men from Doornfontein is to build on this performance, especially given their annoying habit of ruining a good performance with a bad one.
Van Rooyen mentioned that last year’s early-season trip serves as a good guide in this regard.
“We also won the first game against Zebre last year, but crashed in the second game against the Scarlets. It’s critical that we back it up with a solid week of planning “He made the remarks ahead of Friday’s meeting with Cardiff.