“It was a good character win, even though the rugby performance wasn’t great.”
While Lions boss Ivan van Rooyen was not all that pleased with his team’s rugby performance, he hailed the fighting spirit of his players in their emphatic 49-24 United Rugby Championship win against the Dragons at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The win, just the third in seven outings for the Joburg-based side, took the Lions up to ninth place in the standings with 19 points.
Van Rooyen’s team overcame a controversial early red card for lock Ruben Schoeman to win comfortably in the end, the team scoring six tries.
“It was a good character win, even though the rugby performance wasn’t great,” said Van Rooyen after the match.
“We’ve always said we want to be proud of the tightness in this group and the way we played with 14 men says a lot about that and the character in the guys. There’s real cohesion in this team.”
Not fully satisfied but full of praise
Captain Marius Louw was also not fully satisfied with the performance, but he, too, was full of praise for the effort put in by his players.
“We’ve been in a position before where we have had to play with 14 men and won, so it’s not like we’re not used to it. I thought the guys responded well after the red card and the energy levels lifted somewhat, so I’m happy right now.
“But that said, we made a lot of errors, our breakdown wasn’t good enough, and we’ll have to be better against stronger teams later on. But we showed a lot of bravery and scored some good tries.”
The Lions led 18-10 at the break and scored six tries in total through Edwill van der Merwe (two), Quan Horn (two), Henco van Wyk and Morne van der Merwe. Flyhalf Sanele Nohamba kicked 19 points.
Van der Merwe gave credit to captain Louw, who he said led the side well following Schoeman’s red card midway through the first half.
“Credit to the boys and credit to Marius … he calmed everyone down. We simply had to reset a bit and the boys stepped up nicely,” said the No 9. “We all had to dig deep and we did that.”
The Lions will now turn their attention to the European Challenge Cup and a match against Perpignan on Sunday.