DURBAN – After the Lions’ narrow loss to the Sharks in Durban on Friday night, captain Elton Jantjies said the comfort was that his team has improved significantly from the sorry outfit of pre-lockdown Super Rugby.
“We’re positive about the way we’re going. In certain areas at the beginning of the season, before lockdown, we were 3/10 and we’re now 7/10 or 8/10, so that’s a big positive,” Jantjies said after his team had come within a whisker of upsetting the home team.
“To finish within three of the Sharks, who were top in Super Rugby, shows that we’re on the right track.”
The match finished 19-16 in favour of the Sharks but it could have been a different story had the Lions chosen different options – or had a slice of luck – in the dramatic final minutes.
First Jantjies hit an upright with a penalty attempt that would have made it 19-19, and then when the Lions were awarded another penalty close to the Sharks’ line, he opted for a scrum instead of poles, only for the Sharks to win a scrum penalty that sealed the victory for them.
“We always learn, but I feel that wasn’t the reason we lost this game,” Jantjies replied when asked about the team’s decision-making at the death of the game. “There were certain other areas in the game that we definitely need to improve on.”
70 min: Elton levels the score. Ten minutes remain in this game.
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) October 9, 2020
“Obviously we’ll have a review of the collective decisions we make. But if we had scored before half time (when they were behind 13-3), from that 5m maul, it would’ve been a different story (the Sharks won a breakdown penalty). It’s just up to us to make the right decisions collectively and obviously from the management as well.
Jantjies felt that both sides had equal opportunities to win the game.
“They had one try, we had one try. I hit a penalty against the poles, which happens in rugby, and I think we had another penalty where we just didn’t kick it out.”
“We had other moments, particularly at the set piece, where we needed to take better responsibility, and those are crucial moments when you play a quality outfit like the Sharks.”