SA teams should learn from Lions

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The Lions capped off the perfect Currie Cup campaign by sticking to their all-encompassing style of rugby and beating Western Province 32-24 in the final at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Johannesburg side won all 10 of their round-robin matches and lifted the trophy by making the most passes, beating the most defenders, making the most carries, scoring the most tries and also gaining more running yards than anybody else in the competition.

It’s a style of play that helped their Super Rugby side record their best ever season, and Dobson says it’s a blueprint that everybody must follow.

“Over the last three months the Lions played the best style of rugby in South Africa. Their style of rugby, and them going unbeaten through the season, other teams in South Africa need to look at this model and how rugby should be played,” Dobson said.

“The Lions deserve to be the Currie Cup champions, and they deserved to win the match.”

Dobson’s team, who went down 62-32 in their first meeting earlier this season, again found out the hard way that you don’t make mistakes that these Lions can feast on.

WP looked a bit gun shy in the opening exchanges of the Currie Cup final, with the Cape side making a lot of errors in the first half. The Lions are deadly from turnover ball, and they jumped on WP’s inability to hold on to the ball and secure their own breakdown.

Young Flyhalf Robert du Preez also had a bit if a nightmare in the opening stanza, which contributed to WP’s struggles. But he was also the man who sparked the comeback at the end of the first half when he scored a great individual try.

“I can’t explain the errors we made, it was incredible. We left ourselves with two much to do, Dobson said.

“I feel desperately sorry for Rob, but he is going to be a much better player playing in a Currie Cup final at 21-years-old. He will bounce back. We were looking at what was happening and we thought we should make a sub at halftime, because the guy was having one of those nightmares.

“But half the point of playing Rob in the Currie Cup was to bring him through, and to yank a guy at halftime … that would break him even more. It was just one of those days.”

WP’s defence has been rather shaky this season, as the team have tried to implement a new strategy under new defence guru Paul Treu.

Province’s shortcomings in this area were again badly exposed by the Lions, who exploited the space on the counter with passes on the inside.

“Besides the dropped balls and the poor kicks, we gave them too much momentum on attack,” Dobson said.

“They have an attack with real ferocity and directness, and we had to man up and get off the line a little quicker. We didn’t get off the line and we gave them momentum, and once they got momentum our defence was under pressure.”

Dobson will continue as coach of WP’s Currie Cup side next season, as the competition is set for a few changes, which could see it moving back to 14 teams. There are rumours that the competition may replace the Vodacom Cup next year, and Dobson warned that watering down the competition could be a mistake.

“This is probably the poorest attended Currie Cup final that I can remember. I appreciate that the Springboks and the All Blacks play this evening, but I think South African rugby need to look very carefully at what we are doing to the Currie Cup,” Dobson said

“It’s a unique competition. Because a lot of guys are going overseas, these guys are going so quickly from Currie Cup to Super Rugby and into the Springbok side. If we are going to keep watering down the Currie Cup, we are going to destroy our own rugby production line.

“We have to look after the Currie Cup. The new Super Rugby format, we can invite some professor from MIT or Stanford and he wouldn’t know how it works. No competition should be judged on teams that don’t play each other.” - Cape Times


Original source: SA teams should learn from Lions

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