Golden Lions’ Houdini acts testament to their competitiveness

03 August 2019 - 13:30
By Liam Del Carme
Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.
Image: Jeremy Ward / Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

Their three come-from-behind close-call wins are testament to their competitiveness in this season’s Currie Cup, says Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

The Golden Lions performed their latest Houdini act in Bloemfontein on Friday night when they turned a 19-0 deficit against the Free State Cheetahs into a 24-22 victory.

Previously they displayed Lazarus-like qualities by beating Western Province 30-28 and the Pumas 38-37 after also appearing dead and buried.

“It is a good testimonial for the Currie Cup,” said Van Rooyen. “All the teams are more or less at the same level and it is competitive.

“It is exciting. It keeps the Currie Cup interesting and creates energy around it.”

The coach commended his players for the manner in which they stuck to their processes after the hitherto log-leading hosts made a fiery start to the match.

“The guys work hard and they stay in the process. That is encouraging to see. There is a lot we can work on and improve. The young guys are fighting and that is good to see.”

Van Rooyen admitted he was caught by surprise by the aggression Free State displayed in the opening quarter.

“They were very physical. I was amazed by how physical they were initially. We got back into the game,” he said. 

“I’m proud. We are learning on the fly. It is good for them to experience this. We have players who have never played here before.

“All the youngsters who played in this game, played under-21 and juniors with us. We are in a growth process with them. It’s exciting.”

Van Rooyen believes the Golden Lions’ ruthlessness when opportunity fell their way helped pave the way to victory. “We capitalised on one or two opportunities where they lost the ball.”

Captain Ross Cronjé nodded in agreement. “The try just before half time was vital,” said the scrumhalf about the try Madosh Tambwe rounded off after a devilishly deft offload from No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani.

“That was a bit of a momentum changer. It gave the guys a bit of belief.”

He, however, lamented his team’s alarming propensity to let the opposition steal the march on them.

“The guys are making it hard for themselves by allowing teams to score two, three tries in the first couple of minutes and we are always on the back foot.

“The fight that we had was the only difference,” said Cronjé.