Emirates Lions must continue to work on their discipline to boost their EPCR Challenge Cup hopes, according to head coach Ivan van Rooyen.
The South African side remain unbeaten in their debut EPCR campaign, having drawn their opener with Dragons RFC before marching to an impressive 30-12 victory over Stade Français Paris in Round 2 on Friday.
Emirates Lions led for much of the game in Johannesburg, but Stade Français remained in contention until Ruan Smith’s late try sealed victory for the hosts, and van Rooyen says the TOP 14 outfit were aided by his team’s errors.
“Playing in a competition like this is difficult enough, so you don’t need to concede silly penalties or rub the referee the wrong way,” he said. “For us, discipline is an ongoing thing.
“Our goal is six to seven penalties per game and we were at six at half time, so we know we got to keep on working on it.”
But van Rooyen admitted that he was delighted with the result against a leading French team, and pointed out how much his young players will benefit from such competitive games.
“Five points against a team that is currently third on the TOP 14 table, we will take it every day,” he said.
🔥 Edwill 🔥 van 🔥 der 🔥 Merwe 🔥
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Full #ChallengeCupRugby Highlights 👉 https://t.co/pkL6y3wUB9 pic.twitter.com/mf25o7smGY
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) December 16, 2022
“They obviously didn’t bring the whole shebang down to South Africa, but they still have quality players, like Georgian scrummaging forwards and very lengthy and lethal backline players.
“It is certainly an invaluable experience that the players picked up. For instance, a guy like Jordan Hendrikse, what an experience for a 22-year-old to play on a Friday in humid weather conditions with momentum going for and against us.”
Emirates Lions captain Jaco Kriel echoed his coach as he urged his team to tighten up and close out games more efficiently.
“We had a good 20 to 30 minutes but got a little over-excited in the second half,” the flanker said.
“We really could have done better in the second half and if Stade Francais took a bit more chances they could have punished us.
“So in this competition, we need to be better, we have to be patient and back the plan.”