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Oom Rugby on how Lions can quell the Canes

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Hi guys, we at the business side of Super Rugby and our wonderful Lions is in the mix once more, though I am sure they not 100 percent happy with their performance against the Sharks on Saturday…

Oom Rugby writes for All out rugby

There were quite a few errors and loose moments, and two of their tries was scored against 14 men. This weekend they will face a enemy of a whole other nature. And it is a enemy that play in a way that is a specific threat to the fine coordination, timing and tempo that the Lions enjoys.

This try the Lions concede on Saturday is a shadow of what is coming from the Hurricanes. The Canes smash the Lions twice in 2016 just by getting up fast and aggressive into their lines and disrupting them.

It lead to intercepts, mistakes, panic and a total breakdown of their phase play. So today I wanted to look at moments from the Sharks game that can show a way forward for how they can deal with what is coming.

Prime Beef
It is no use to run the ball if the Canes is waiting in the sprinting blocks to rush up. So if we can make them go in reverse first then we take the sting out of it – it is hard to rush forward if your offside line is moving backwards.

So the Lions must use their prime beef in the narrow channels to push the Canes back. As we see above with Ruan and two tight forwards, this also suck in defenders and hopefully create better conditions so the midfield can make magic.

Fans hates big players and direct play but we need to get that defence going backwards first to get time and space to make sexy moves.

Elton
If the Lions pack can dominate and create quick, clean ball then Elton can cause trouble. The Lions loves to attack in midfield and I believe that the Canes is potentially vulnerable here.

It is one thing to be aggressive on defence, but it is another thing to co-operate and be patient. As we see above, Elton have a incredible ability to play flat and late and that mean the inside defence must wait to see what is going to happen, they can not drift or push.

That create uncertainty and spacing problems outside that the Lions backs can exploit. The Hurricanes aggression sometimes make them sloppy and Elton will be key to exploit this.

Kick Man!
If a dog keep chewing the carpet then you must roll a newspaper and smack him on the nose – punish the rush by kicking into the space behind it! We always say this but people do not do it enough.

Elton must make a statement early by chipping when they come up. This will create uncertainty for the next rush and present the Canes defence with multiple challenges.

The value we talking about here is tactical but also psychological. The Hurricane defence identity is base on aggression, so if we take that away and bring in doubt then we are starting to put our will on our opponent and not the other way around.

Short Ball
But Elton can not do it on his own and the fact is the Canes know if they can rattle him then it is game over. They have done it before.

They will rush and try to force him into early passes or catch him ball-and-all. So something encouraging I see in the Sharks game was guys running short lines off Elton’s shoulders.

The short ball to Kwagga above is a perfect example. Not only is it important because Elton know he have a emergency escape option next to him, but the Canes actually open themself up to linebreaks with this kind of aggressive targeting.

Harold Vorster
I want to mention Harold specifically because I think he will make a big difference on Saturday by the way he read the game, the lines he choose and the timing of his runs. The Canes has never faced him before and I think he is the perfect guy to exploit their aggression.

In the picture above we see Elton waiting to get the ball from Cronje. Harold is also there, and he will actually sprint right past Elton to aim at a hole he see near the ruck. Cronje see him in time and hit him with a flat pass for a big gain.

Even Elton was surprise to see Harold run past him and grabbing the ball but it was great vision and a great call. Because of hasty nature of Canes defence, I predict Harold will have a big say on Saturday.

Malcolm Marx
Another guy I want to single out is Malcolm Marx. He have a incredible ability to stay on his feet and make meters even when faced with multiple defenders.

He is a absolute rock in the face of tacklers and is a one-man rush defence killer. It is not nice to rush into a brick wall! In the picture above Malcolm charge forward and make a gain against three Shark defenders.

The Lions tends to use him in the wider channels and that is good because his presence there will give them a safe carry. Against the Canes aggression Malcolm can be like a calm port in a storming sea.

Ok guys, that is just some things to think about and look forward to. We hope the Lions come to the party and give coach Ackers the farewell season he deserve!

DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I really hope Elton plays better this week than last week against the Sharks and last year against the same Hurricanes. Otherwise it will be a long afternoon.

  2. Yep I pretty much agree with everything above except that ‘fans hate big players and direct play’… I think you mean’t ‘fare-weather fans that fancy flash over substance and balance’.

    Not often I agree with millennial fairy Craig Lewis from SARUGBYMAG… but like the piece above I could not have put it better…

    ” Lions must outsmart Canes
    26 Jul 2017 More by craig
    1 Reaction 51 4
    Elton Jantjies pops a pass against the Hurricanes Elton Jantjies pops a pass against the Hurricanes
    The Lions need to back substance over style in Saturday’s semi-final against the Hurricanes at Ellis Park, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    In last year’s semi-final in Johannesburg, the Lions roared to a 42-30 win over the Highlanders in a highly entertaining encounter that saw them outscore their Kiwi opponents five tries to four.

    This time around – now against the Hurricanes – it needs to be all about containment rather than entertainment; and accuracy over aesthetics. It must be about clever kicking rather than ball-in-hand brilliance, and physical forward dominance before sexy attacking prevalence.

    In many ways, the Canes are a unique New Zealand beast. Assistant coach John Plumtree is in charge of a powerful forward pack that boasts supreme athletes such as Ardie Savea and Dane Coles, while they use the kicking game as a key element of their weaponry.

    Under the guidance of astute head coach Chris Boyd, the Canes are also one of the most devastating teams on the counter-attack and from first-phase play, but the source of many of these attacking platforms can be traced back to their ferocious linespeed on defence.

    There is no doubt that the Canes will look to get into the face of their opponents this Saturday through an aggressive, high-speed and tight knit defensive line that will aim to cut down the time and space that the Lions’ attack thrives on.

    It’s through this approach that the Canes will hope to force the Lions into rushed decision-making, ill-timed passes or poor kicks that they can then turn into attacking opportunities of their own.

    A prime example of this, in fact, played out in last Saturday’s quarter-final against the Sharks when Andries Coetzee opted for a quick lineout throw-in, which is something that has been regularly seen from the high-tempo and ambitious Lions.

    However, the rush defence of the Sharks first hurried Lionel Mapoe into shovelling a ‘hospital pass’ to Elton Jantjies, who in turn threw a speculative offload that landed in the hands of Lukhanyo Am. The ball was recycled and ended in a try for Sharks winger Kobus van Wyk.

    As coach Johan Ackermann pointed out afterwards, there was no problem with the quick throw-in, but rather the fact that neither Mapoe or Jantjies took the decision to carry the ball up.

    It’s this sort of panic that the Lions must avoid on Saturday. They need to be willing to carry the ball through multiple phases. To use an age-old coaching catch-phrase, the hosts need to first earn the right to go wide.

    The Lions must use some of their big ball-carriers such as Malcolm Marx and Ruan Ackermann to punch away at the narrow channels and ensure that the Hurricanes have to keep resetting their defence behind the gainline.

    Just as the Lions need to use their ball runners to keep turning the Hurricanes around, so Jantjies needs to use his deft left boot to dink the ball into space over the defensive line, away from playmaker TJ Perenara and preferably behind the Canes’ backtracking wingers.

    If Jantjies can maintain his composure, he is the perfect sort of player to keep the Canes’ rush defence guessing, as he boasts the skill-set to attack the gainline, kick long or short, or pass inside or out.

    ALSO READ: Lions need Elton to kick on

    Also working in the flyhalf general’s favour is the fact that on his outside he has a hard-running centre in Harold Vorster – who has a natural ability to choose wonderful running lines – while he can also feed a short ball to fleet-footed ball-running flankers such as Jaco Kriel or Kwagga Smith.

    Once the Lions have softened up the Hurricanes’ defence over the first hour of proceedings, they can use the altitude factor to their advantage by utilising their outside backs to attack the spaces that their tiring opponents should begin to concede in the wider challenges.

    If the Lions can display patience, pragmatism and an appreciation for possession, while cutting down on their turnover rate (currently averaging 17 per game), then there is every reason to believe that they can and will overcome the Canes.”

  3. @bryce_in_oz: So true Bryce.. Semi Final will be day and night compare to last year but don’t you think if a team chance the way they play just for knockout rugby that they tend to lose?

    Their natural game is scoring tries and running the ball and players into space. The one thing you see NZ teams do great is that they don’t change the plan unless the in-game circumstances change due to weather or the way opponents play on the day.

    We need the structure and we need Elton and Cronje to get good ball and decision making out to the backs.

    Off course the forwards have to dominate the collisions and win set pieces as well.

    But agree with most of what Lewis say we need an composed approach from all players rather than free playing run everything at all causes.

    Two tries in both weeks against the Sharks was due to the implosive play in own red zone where they should have exit properly rather

  4. @bryce_in_oz:

    Good points raised in that artice. Hurricanes have won their last 8 games against the Lions including twice last year, with a 50 pointer against the Lions at Ellis Park.

    They obviously know how to play against the Joburg side. As I mentioned earlier, Elton and the Lions will have to be at the top of their game.

  5. Agree with a lot of that, but the one weakness of the lions game is it doesn’t have those big ball-carrying powerhouses to hit it up around the fringes in the heavy traffic. Kriel is v explosive but in slightly looser player. What the lions and Boks really need to complete it all is a big rollicking loose forward, Willem Alberts was last one we had who made heavy yards in traffic.

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