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Lions ‘hurting’ after Stormers loss, but these TWO positives leave coach Van Rooyen upbeat

Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse in action against the Stormers at Ellis Park. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse in action against the Stormers at Ellis Park. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

  • Their last-gasp loss to the Stormers hurts, but Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen remains upbeat with their overall efforts.
  • The Lions led for large parts at Ellis Park on Saturday, before relinquishing a 37-29 lead in the final five minutes.
  • Van Rooyen hailed their scrum and the efforts of flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse as two positive standouts from the game.

Despite their agonising last-gasp defeat to the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen says there are enough positives they can take from the encounter.

The Lions let slip a 37-29 advantage in the last five minutes to go down 39-37 and suffer their third straight loss in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA.

It was a game they bossed for large parts, and while admitting the players were “hurting”, Van Rooyen remained upbeat for the remainder of the competition.

“Hats off to the Stormers… I had a long chat with (Stormers coach) John Dobson outside… it was still a spectacle, still a good game. Obviously we’re hurting but also if you take the last minute out of the game, if we’d have won, there would have been a lots of praises for certain individuals and for the team,” Van Rooyen said during the post-match press conference.

“The guys really fought and played well. I think we were brave on attack, we managed to put them under pressure in our kicking game, the execution thereof was good… but it was just not good enough in the end.

“I definitely think that our decision making could have been better in the last two minutes. That happened through different scenarios in training or through experience…. that’s the two things we can improve. There were one or two decision making errors we made there.”

When probed on what areas he was particularly pleased with, Van Rooyen highlighted TWO – the Lions’ scrum which stood up against a potent Stormers front row and the efforts of 19-year-old flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse.

“Obviously we are proud of the scrum. We know that the Stormers have got a really good scrum so both [of our] front rows played really well.

“Someone like Asenathi (Ntlabakanye) playing those last 20 minutes at 22-years-old, that’s invaluable experience that he is gaining. It’s the same with (hooker) PJ Botha, he is also just 23-years-old. So really proud of our scrum, I think we fronted up well there, our systems worked really well there.”

Hendrikse was a bright spark for the hosts, he kicked two penalties and three conversions for a personal haul of 12 points, and was also on hand to produce an excellent offload which put flank MJ Pelser away for a try.

“Playing a game like this, as a 19-year-old, with the way he played, really is exciting,” Van Rooyen said.

“He has got a special gift and talent. More than him kicking the ball prodigiously, it’s the confidence that he brings in the way he organises everyone around him. We are really excited, but also really happy for him.”

In their next encounter, the Lions host the Bulls in Johannesburg this coming Saturday (22 May).

READ | Dobson credits high intensity training sessions for Stormers’ late Ellis Park heroics

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