When a rugby team loses two consecutive matches, the storm clouds usually gather.
But in the case of the Lions there is a silver lining, although they were beaten 17-16 by Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday. This followed last week’s close-fought defeat against the Stormers at Ellis Park.
The Lions won’t win the series, they aren’t the perfect product, but the positivity and newfound confidence in camp is very contagious.
Players such as the talented Quan Horn, Edwill van der Merwe, Henco van Wyk, Marius Louw and Sanele Nohamba (at the back) and Francke Horn, Emmanuel Tshituka, Ruben Schoeman and PJ Botha flourish up front. Together with the experienced Ruan Dreyer, Jaco Visagie and Willem Alberts, they have now reached maturity.
Then substitutes like Hanru Sirgel, Ruan Venter, Asenathi Ntlabakanye and Morné van den Berg bring new energy when they are sent up from the bench.
The team is super fit, adventurous and plays with passion and flair.
Forget that the Lions will simply be the punching bags in the series.
They can be the fun spoilers instead.
Had the ball bounced correctly once or twice on Saturday, the Lions could have won in no time. If the try scored by Ruan Venter had not been canceled due to obstruction, the Lions could have bitten harder.
Edinburgh, coached this season by the Sharks’ former coach Sean Everitt, are unbeaten for the first time since 2019 after two consecutive victories.
Edinburgh beat the Welsh Dragons last week and plucked the Lions’ mane on Saturday.
It was also the Scots’ first win over the Lions after losing in the 2021‑22 and 2022‑23 seasons.
That’s two victories in the bag, but they didn’t completely convince (at home) and without physical forwards, they will struggle to beat the other South African teams and the Irish’s Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht.
Edinburgh: 17 (7): Tries: Luke Crosbie, Ewan Ashman. Goals: Ben Healy (2). Penalty Goal: Healy.
Lions: 16 (6): Three: Frank Horn. Goal kick: Jordan Hendrikse. Penalty goals: Hendrikse (3).