Lions coach irritated and displeased
There was a palpable air of despair about the Lions after the Bulls thumped them 30-12 at Ellis Park in their Super Rugby clash on Saturday.
Coach Swys de Bruin sighs more audibly than most and he was most displeased with the manner in which his team was bossed around and ultimately suffered a first home defeat in conference play in four years.
“We have no excuses. We were outplayed by a much better team on the day‚” he vented.
“We’ll have to go and work very hard to rectify our mistakes. They taught us a rugby lesson. We were outmuscled.
"For the first 24 minutes we didn’t have the ball. They suffocated us. It was almost like the old Bulls team that used their pack with brutality.”
They certainly were.
The Bulls made their bigger pack do all the heavy lifting. They were brutal in the collisions.
They deprived the Lions the ball in the first half‚ and they showed variety‚ especially in their use of the high ball. It left Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi clutching at straws.
“We battled in the air‚” said De Bruin‚ while letting go of more air. “We didn’t catch one.”
He admitted the defeat ranks with the nadir of his career at the Lions since joining in November 2012.
“This is one of the lows. When Ackers (former coach Johan Ackermann) was still here the Hurricanes gave us a 50-3‚ and I almost have the same taste in my mouth.
“There have been a few lows. I have to add this has been my 93rd match here in various coaching capacities and this is a very disappointing result.”
Since starting their campaign the Lions have also lost captain Warren Whiteley and lock Marvin Orie to a growing injury list but De Bruin was in no mood to sugar coat his team’s shortcomings.
“There are no excuses. We have a squad system. It doesn’t matter whether Rhyno Herbst had his first cap and he has to go up against the likes of Duane (Vermeulen).
"This is Super Rugby and you have to man up. We didn’t man up. There is no-one to blame. It starts with me. We can’t be happy with this.”
De Bruin likened the performance to the frustrations golfers often experience.
“It’s like buying a new putter but by the time I get to the green I’m lying there for seven. The putt doesn’t matter.
"It was very frustrating.”
The coach has much to rectify this week in preparation for next Saturday’s clash against the Jaguares.
Although he has players like Cyle Brink on the cusp of returning from injury (and boy‚ they can do with his bulk)‚ De Bruin is more focused on the performance of the collective.
“I don’t even want to go there‚” he brushed aside the notion of replenishing his squad.
“I hate it when people say I miss this guy‚ that guy or whoever and the other team had all their guys. It’s feeble.
"And it irritates me.”
The defeat is hard felt by De Bruin.
The Lions’ days at the top of the South African pile appear numbered.
They had gone 21 matches unbeaten against all South African opposition until they lost against the Sharks last year.
Last weekend’s defeat against the Stormers gave further indication that they were losing their grip.
The manner in which the Bulls inflicted this defeat can leave the folks at Ellis Park in no doubt that the Lions are no longer be the kings of the conference.