Eloff: ‘The journey has been great’

Lions coach Eugene Eloff has lauded his young side for playing like Lions on Saturday, despite going down in a crucial match to the perennially strong Brumbies in Johannesburg.

Eloff is renowned for instilling the necessary belief in young players that can turn them into world beaters. And it is clear that even when they lose, Eloff still backs his players.

“I am disappointed with the loss, but we did play well. My players went out there and played their hearts out. They played with guts.”

Eloff points to the stern defence of the Brumbies as being the difference between the sides.

“Their cover defence, as well as their scramble defence is just superb. We were able to break the line, but we just couldn’t push home the advantage of those opportunities.

“It’s the small things that cost us. we made one crucial error and that cost us the game.”

The Lions coach did believe however that his side were somewhat unlucky to have a try disallowed when it was adjudged by referee Paul Honiss that Jano Vermaak had used his players as obstructions to find the gap.

“I thought that call was 50/50; it could have gone our way because I don’t think any defenders were close enought op catch him anyway,” Eloff told this website.

Eloff affirmed that the loss would be put in the past, and their approach would not change as they ready themselves to play the other four South African sides in their final league matches.

A semi-final berth is still possible, and four wins, which include tussles with two sides above them on the log, will probably see them grab a spot in the final four. Eloff will focus on what he can control – the rugby his side plays.

“We want to improve, we have been building a new team this year. This week we will focus on minimizing some of the small mistakes we made in our ball retention against the Brumbies.”

The Lions have been the chief surprise package of the tournament, having been written off before they even played a game this year. Eloff never saw it this way.

“I have believed in these guys [the Lions] even before the season started. They have grown in stature and in the responsibility they each carry.

“The journey has been great.”

The Lions do have two injury concerns after Saturday. Lock Anton van Zyl is suspected to have cracked a rib, while Cobus Grobler has also taken a hefty knock. Monday will see clarification on these two’s availability.

The Lions play the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.


365 Digital

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