Lions coach Loffie Eloff refused to highlight the negatives in his side’s loss to the Chiefs after they gave up a 19-point lead.
The visitors face the Blues on Friday and a five-point haul would’ve been the perfect start to the tour. However, Eloff remained positive and was content with the two log points earned that sees his side move out of the bottom two.
‘Yes, I’m disappointed,’ said Eloff, ‘because at 22-10 we really had momentum and I thought if we could score once more we might have got them to try funny things and run from unfamiliar places, but I’m happy we’ve walked away with two bonus points.’
The Lions surprised the Chiefs and held a 29-10 lead heading into the final quarter, but four tries and 26 unanswered points handed the Chiefs the win. Stand-in captain Jaque Fourie, who deputised for injured Baywatch Grobbelaar, lamented his team straying from the game plan that worked perfectly in the opening hour.
‘We did well in the opening half,’ said Fourie. ‘We stuck to what we wanted to, but drifted away from it in the second.’
Grobbelaar’s injury is not the only concern for Eloff as Todd Clever, Jannes Labuschagne and Doppies la Grange also left the field.
‘This is a good side we played against,’ said Eloff, ‘and when I had to make two changes at half-time with injuries to our lock and inside centre, we just lost a bit of rhythm.’
‘A few silly mistakes, missed tackles here and there, but I thought my team played pretty well,’ he said.
Although it was an opportunity lost against the Chiefs the Lions should be confident heading to Eden Park. The Blues have had problems in defence and if the Lions can implement their game-plan as well as they did in the opening hour against the Chiefs, they could earn a result.
The Lions played expansively but weren’t as frantic as they have been in the past, attacking from deep in the opponents half. Fourie also highlighted how vital their initial defensive effort was in restricting the space of the Kiwis and how that must be replicated in Auckland.
‘We knew we had to be physical against the New Zealand teams,’ said Fourie. ‘We got stuck in to them and hopefully can do the same again against the Blues.’