Home Sport Lions must must make chances count against Benetton, says Horn

Lions must must make chances count against Benetton, says Horn

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The Lions can’t afford ar slow start at the Stadio di Monigo against a Benetton team coming off a hard-fought 18-14 victory over Connacht in Treviso at the weekend.

Francke Horn (right) of the Emirates Lions and Sam Parry of Ospreys during the United Rugby Championship, in Swansea, Wales on Saturday. Picture: Huw Evans, Shutterstock (14410796af)

Ashfak Mohamed

While there was disappointment all around the Lions side after going down to the Ospreys, they have a chance to fix things immediately in Saturday’s Challenge Cup round of 16 play-off against Benetton in Treviso (6.30pm kick-off, SA time).

The Johannesburg outfit were outstanding in making history by becoming the first South African team to beat Connacht in Galway on March 23 as they registered a 38-14 bonus-point triumph.

But that massive high was followed by a real low as they missed an opportunity to move into the United Rugby Championship play-off spots by going down 29-21 to the Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday.

What would have been frustrating for coach Ivan van Rooyen was the fact that it took so long for the Lions to find their attacking spark. They were virtually out of the contest at 29-7 down around the hour mark, having been disrupted at the breakdowns all night long by Ospreys’ master fetcher Justin Tipuric and his teammates.

Lions showed great spirit

But the visitors showed great spirit to hit back with late tries by fullback Quan Horn and wing Richard Kriel to set up a thrilling finish as they chased a losing bonus point. With Saturday’s Challenge Cup play-off clash being another avenue to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup, the Lions can’t afford another slow start at the Stadio di Monigo against a Benetton team coming off a hard-fought 18-14 victory over Connacht in Treviso at the weekend.

That saw the Italian club move up to sixth on the United Rugby Championship log on 37 points, while the Lions remained in 11th position on 34 points.

The Joburg side face a tough URC run-in to the end of the season, with home fixtures against Leinster (April 20), Munster (April 27), Cardiff (May 11) and Glasgow (May 18), and an away clash against the Stormers (June 1). It will be difficult for them to move up the URC table, so the Challenge Cup may be their best bet of silverware and Champions Cup qualification.

Impatience from our side

“We weren’t good enough in this game, so we need a good look and focus on us to be better. When we get it right, we look formidable – it’s just we need to be more consistent in (certain) areas,” Van Rooyen said after the Ospreys match. When we got front-foot ball … in the second half, we looked very different, so obviously bitterly disappointed.

“Even in the first half, there were three or four clear-cut opportunities, and maybe impatience from our side. One or two more phases or rucks, and we could’ve created that opportunity or get earlier to the breakdown. We didn’t clean the breakdown out too nicely, and we allowed them to get in there.”

Star No 8 Francke Horn was one of the workhorses for the Lions in Swansea, and added that the players want to make amends against Benetton.

“Everybody is disappointed. It felt like we let the fans and ourselves down after the really good performance last week (against Connacht),” Horn said.

“I just think it didn’t go our way, and we struggled to find a foothold. What’s positive is that last 15 minutes – the fightback of the guys and the impact that the bench brought. We know that’s not our standard. We want to play better and we will be better next week. Playing Benetton, it’s another competition, it’s knockout rugby, and it’s something new to look forward to.

“We will just focus on ourselves, be better, like we know we can be, and take it from there. But I have no doubt that the guys will get together and check what we did wrong, and what opportunities there are against Benetton – and try to do that and exploit that on Saturday.

“All in all, a little bit disappointed, but next week’s another game in another competition, so looking forward to that.”

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