Lion cubs look dangerous
13 Jul 2009
Golden Lions assistant coach Carl Spilhaus was delighted with his side’s 34-6 victory against the SWD Eagles on the opening day of Craven Week.
The Young Eagles won the unofficial Craven Week final in Pretoria last year, but the class of 2009 were totally outplayed by their Jo’burg counterparts in East London.
‘We are happy with the win, especially as the Eagles were the form side at the 2008 tournament,’ Spilhaus told keo.co.za.
‘However, we really let ourselves down at times, especially in the backs where we ran laterally. We seemed to play in fits and starts and lacked continuity at certain stages. In saying this, I thought when we did string some phases together we looked dangerous.’
Spilhaus was particularly pleased with the performances of the Lions’ two flankers from Monument.
‘Jimmy Hughes and JP le Grange were outstanding and won numerous turnovers that effectively nullified their dangerous backs,’ he said.
While the Lions have started well, they will need to sharpen up in certain areas according to the assistant coach.
‘We know that we will have to up our game on Wednesday,’ he said.
SWD coach Braam Tucker was disappointed with his side’s performance and admitted that ‘elementary’ mistakes and poor decision-making effectively cost them the game.
Meanwhile, Western Province coach Chris October heaped praise on his players after their 49-15, eight-try annihilation of Eastern Province.
‘We are happy with the performance,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘We have really focused on just taking it one game at a time and today we did the business.’
October was pleased with the way the Province side moved the ball into space, in particular the centre pairing of Sam Lane and JP du Plessis, who put the outside backs into space every time they ran at the opposition. Lane, normally a flyhalf, distributed the ball superbly and the tactic of playing two decision makers with vision at 10 (William van Wyk) and 12 (Lane) paid dividends for WP.
‘Sam is a natural footballer who has great vision and the same can be said about William and JP, they complemented each other very well today,’ said October, who was also quick to credit the tight five and in particular livewire hooker Gary Topkin.
‘Our set pieces were outstanding and we physically dominated EP in the tight facets of the game. We won all our lineouts today and Gary needs to be acknowledged for this. Our tight five really laid the platform.’
However, it was not all plain sailing for WP and they will need to tighten up in a few areas if they are to be serious contenders at Craven Week. Their defence was porous at times and they seemed to lose concentration in the second half. Their goal kicking is also a concern as Van Wyk had only a 50% success rate. In tighter games this could come back to haunt the Cape outfit.
‘We will need to address certain aspects of our game,’ said October. ‘Our players seemed fatigued at one stage early in the second half. We need to maintain focus for the full 70 minutes.’
Craven Week continues on Tuesday, with Boland playing the Blue Bulls and Free State taking on KwaZulu-Natal in the pick of the fixtures.
By Gareth Wright