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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

WATCH: Ivan van Rooyen ‘immensely proud’ after Lions smash Racing 92

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All of the Lions’ Den – from the players, its coaches, management and supporters – should have woken up on Sunday morning immensely proud of what they achieved against Racing 92 the previous night.

Playing with 14-men after the red card to Emmanuel Tshituka in the 18th minute, the Emirates Lions smashed through the visitors 51-28 in their EPCR Challenge Cup round of 16 clash at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday night. That was certainly the sentiment shared by head coach Ivan van Rooyen after the match.

“I am immensely proud,” he admitted.

“The guys worked extremely hard to get the result (Saturday) night, especially with the red card. You could see by the end, there were guys that were just exhausted.

“That is what it’s going to take to win games like this against a great team full of Test stars. Even though they travelled, so did we.

“We knew that we really had to be good. If you are going to allow them to run onto you, they will damage you because they have X-factor all over the show.

“It was important to be good defensively and if you are good defensively, you’d probably get one or two counter-attack opportunities and we managed to use that.”

In the absence of Tshituka, the flanks teammates all raised their hands and stood up – none more so than captain Marius Louw and Player of the Match Ruan Venter. The 20-year-old was monstrous during the clash, underscored by his powerful run at the end of the first half.

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Venter crashed his way over one tackler then and fended off three more Racing players to stretch over the tryline to give his team a 27-14 lead heading into the shed. Venter’s form has returned in recent weeks, punctuated by this fine performance.

“If you are young,” Van Rooyen explained regarding Venter’s outing, “and you went through a very tough time in the last six weeks – losing his father – that will make any man’s knees weak.

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“When you are 20-years-old and you lose your dad more so. You can see how much it means to him …

“His close contact skills are absolutely world class and he displayed that again on (Saturday night). He has got big athletic ability and a massive leg drive. His will to go forward is amazing.”

The Lions plan to travel to Glasgow on Tuesday night. There they will face the Warriors in the quart-finals of the Challenge Cup this coming weekend.

They will have to await on the fate of Tshituka’s diciplinary hearing and also the fitness of Reinhard Nothnagel, who soldiered on to the end with a busted cheek. The quarter-final clash is scheduled to be played on Saturday at 8pm.

@FreemanZAR

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