The Lions’ rugby team is still far from the perfect product, but after a few seasons at the deep end, the players’ skills have improved more and more.
Admittedly, the Lions were beaten 24-17 by Ulster in Belfast on Friday night, who took the lead in the season’s United Rugby Championship.
It was extremely bad conditions for rugby, because it rained hard all the time, but still the Lions adapted to the conditions and gave a good account.
The team was ahead 7-0 for a long time and went into half-time with a lead of 14-7. To get it done in pouring rain before Ulster’s home crowd in the Kingspan Stadium wants to be done.
By the end, there was little difference between the two teams. On the contrary, at times it looked like the Lions were more used to playing in the rain.
The Lions’ great standouts were flyhalf Sanele Nohamba (he is actually a scrumhalf), the turbulent winger Edwill van der Merwe, the centers Hencus van Wyk and Marius Louw, with the workhorse Willem Alberts up front, as well as the hardworking flanker Hanru Sirgel.
Sirgel, who is on loan from the Griquas to the Lions, will most likely remain in the Lions’ sights, because this ex-Tukkie is a very big asset.
He made the most tackles (16) on Friday night, scored a try and slowed down Ulster’s possession.
The Lions, who won against the Welsh Ospreys last weekend, can be quite satisfied with their overseas tour.
They are not within striking distance of the leaders, but are tenth out of 16 teams and comfortably ahead of the Sharks (1 point) who have struggled a lot on their tour and are last in the standings.
The Lions scored 83 points and scored 10 threes in five games, compared to the Sharks’ 49 points and just six threes in their first four games.
The Lions, who return home on Saturday, play against the Italian Zebre team at Ellis Park this coming weekend.
If they can build on their decent performances overseas, the flame can burn further.
Scorers: Ulster 24 (7): Tries: James Hume, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Herring. Goals: Nathan Doak (3). Penalty: John Cooney.
Lions 17 (14): Tries: Richard Kriel, Hanru Sirgel. Goal kick: Sanele Nohamba (2). Penalty goal: Nohamba.