Brumbies whip poor Lions
The Brumbies powered home to a 34-20 whipping of the MTN Lions at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Friday night, scoring six tries to two in a one-sided beating that was way more comprehensive than the score suggests.
Jake White’s side took home a five-point helping as the Lions succumbed once again to a mismatch of poor tackling and shoddy leadership to prove that they are nowhere near the standard that the current competition requires to even be competitive.
While there is no certainty about who will contest Super Rugby next season, the Lions are helping make a difficult decision easy with the type of play they deliver week in and out, and whether we like to say it or not, surely will be the side to make way for the Kings in the next season.
It is difficult to be positive after another comprehensive hiding like this. John Mitchell said after the Lions' loss to the Bulls that the “exam had been set and failed and it will continue to be reset until the players learn” but after a night on their home ground again where the exam was set and failed you have to feel for Mitchell, as the players seem not to have learnt from their mistakes.
For Lions fans who feel there is still light at the end of the tunnel, the defensive performance in particular looked more as if the home side were digging a well deeper into the earth than looking for light, and continued to pay the price for shoddy tackling and their own inability to adapt to the running lines of the Brumbies.
Make no mistake, for all his faults, Jake White has coached this Brumbies side well and it isn’t any surprise that they sit on top of the Aussie conference. Week in and out they deliver a disciplined performance, limiting mistakes while playing some in-your-face expansive rugby with athletes who may not possess the experience but sure are superior in terms of skills.
The result was never in doubt from the word go, and only a late Lions comeback made it look even respectable. Still at this stage of the season, even those sorts of comebacks aren’t considered unique once a team is 30 points down.
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After taking a 3-0 lead through the boot of Elton Jantjies, the Lions were given their first taste of the Brumbies attack when they missed some easy tackles first up, and Ruaidhri Murphy crashed over from close range.
The Lions will feel lucky to know the Brumbies missed three kicks between try number one and two, which came as Henry Speight broke two tackles to go over and score.
No sooner had the Lions defence settled and had their team talk, than they were behind the posts again as Andrew Smith sliced his way through two poor tackles to add another try to the scoreboard.
At 17-6 at the break, the writing was on the wall, but the second half started spectacularly badly for the Lions as they fell further behind thanks to a perfect grubber by Pat McCabe, who saw Joe Tomane beat a poor Lions defence to the bobbling ball to score.
A minute later Speight found way too much space, and this time it was Ben Alexander who crashed over to extend the Brumbies lead even further and give them a crucial bonus point away from home.
Speight added another 10 minutes later after a clinical turnover, kick downfield as the Brumbies flooded the breakdown, sending the recycled ball wide for the winger to cruise in under the posts.
Ironically the Lions had their best passage of play after Butch James was yellow carded for a suicidal shoulder cleanout which attracted not only a yellow card but a white one as well for review by referee Keith Brown.
Shortly after James’s departure, the Lions scored as they pounced on a sloppy lineout close to the line by the Brumbies and Taute etched his name on the scoresheet.
Another late try, this time to Caylib Oosthuizen, made the scoreline look a lot more respectable, but in truth this game was over a long way before the end.
And the Lions will rue their poor tackling once again in a home game. They now head out on tour and, to be honest, will need to find some magic away from home if things are to improve.
MTN Lions – Try: Jaco Taute, Caylib Oosthuizen . Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Elton Jantjies(2).
Brumbies –Tries: Ruaidhri Murphy, Henry Speight(2), Andrew Smith, Joseph Tomane, Ben Alexander . Conversions: Jesse Mogg, Christian Lealifano..