Lions confound the critics to clinch perfect URC tour | The Citizen

The Lions confounded rugby critics the world over by producing an amazing performance to upset Edinburgh on their home turf and clinch a perfect European tour in the United Rugby Championship (URC) with three wins from three.

Their 22-19 win in Scotland on Friday night was preceded by a 31-18 win over Cardiff and a 28-27 win over Ospreys, both in Wales, as they made history by becoming the first South African team to claim a clean sweep of away wins in the URC.

What made the result even more impressive was it was a very young Lions side up against a very experienced Edinburgh team full of internationals, while they also became just the second team to beat the hosts at the Dam Heath Stadium in the URC, with only Ulster having done it before last season.

It was a host of Lions youngsters that drove the fantastic performance against Edinburgh, with eighthman Francke Horn picking up the man of the match award, while outside centre Henco van Wyk, scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba and loose forward Ruan Venter also put in massive shifts.

It wasn’t only the youngsters however, as veteran fullback Andries Coetzee was also on song, while inside centre Marius Louw is starting to make a serious name for himself after making the switch to Johannesburg from Durban, with another strong performance for his new side.

Famous win

In all it was a famous win for the Lions and one that they will remember for a long time, with Horn admitting after the game that the team always believed they could pull off the win.

“Everyone is over the moon. You can hear the cheers behind us. We knew it was going to be a tough one but we believed we could do it,” said Horn.

“At halftime we felt we could have been better in the first 20 minutes, but we knew we were in the game and the scoreboard at the end was in our favour, so congrats to the boys. I think we played exceptional rugby to come away with the win.

A stand out part of the Lions game over the three match European tour has been their brilliant defence, which in every match kept them in the game and then allowed them to come away with a win on each occasion.

“I think a lot of credit must go to coach Jaque (Fourie, Lions defence coach). You can see the last three weeks our defence was excellent and that kept us in the game. Then when we got the opportunities tonight, we went on and put points on the board,” explained Horn.

“It was another great effort from the guys. We are now heading back home, so we are looking forward to getting back home and having a great season in Johannesburg.”

Looking on to the rest of the campaign Horn believes that the sky is the limit for the Lions this season.

“I think there is a lot of belief in this team, especially after the last three weeks. It doesn’t just happen, winning three out of three on tour. So I think we have a special bunch and I think we are going to go a long way this year,” said Horn.

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