The Lions are wary of the Jaguares‚ says defence coach Joey Mongalo
Statistics don’t lie‚ but they can be bent to the truth you wish to seek.
Or something to that affect‚ reckons the Lions defence coach Joey Mongalo.
He is no philosopher but he pleads for context when presented with numbers that stop short of delivering a complete picture.
“Context in the figures is always good‚” he said when reminded what has set the Crusaders apart from the Lions is the eight-time Super Rugby champions’ unremitting defence.
“We are still top five in fewest tries conceded. It is not great‚ but we have the desire to defend better than what we have.
“In the context of the competition and how the team has changed‚ then it is a work-on for us. We are not disgruntled with the progress we’ve made since the start of the competition.
"It takes a while to get the combinations right.”
The Lions play the Jaguares in a Super Rugby quarterfinal at Ellis Park on Saturday and although their execution has let them down at times‚ the South Americans have struck a splendid balance between rumbling forward play and exploring wide open spaces.
“They have the most carries and passes in Super Rugby‚” noted Mongalo.
“You expect them to keep the ball quite a bit.”
In Nicolas Sanchez they have a flyhalf that feels the pulse of the game‚ while out wide Emiliano Boffelli and Bautista Delguy have wreaked havoc with defences.
“It’s the tempo they play at‚” said Mongalo.
“They thrive on quick ball‚ also their unpredictability.
"You are never at rest until you have the ball in your hands. They are very dangerous from turnovers.”
But so too are the Lions.
You don’t get to finish the league stages as joint top try scorers without the ability to make the opposition pay when they squander possession.
“We are very fortunate to have guys like Malcolm (Marx)‚ Ruan (Dreyer)‚ Kwagga (Smith) and Harold (Vorster).
"We have quite a few guys who can poach the ball on the deck. We have to make sure that we give them opportunities to do exactly that. We pounce on turnovers.”
Mongalo believes they are a much better team than the one the Lions beat at Ellis Park in February.
“They were able to get more continuity‚ even though they lost those Tests (as the Pumas in June). Winning away from home would have done wonders for their confidence. They’ve been here for two‚ three weeks so they should have acclimatised.”
Saturday’s clash is not the only thing on Mongalo’s mind. The coach‚ you may recall‚ has been accused of sexual assault in Australia.
The case emanates from the Lions’ tour of Australasia earlier this year‚ but the wheels of justice are turning slowly.
“It is all still sensitive.
"The law has taken its course.
"It is going through the process it has to go.
"I’ve got an idea (of where proceedings are at)‚ we’ve got a legal representative on that side.
"We will announce it as soon as we know‚” said Mongalo.