While the Lions triumphed in a catfight with the Cheetahs, recent losses suggest there's still far to go.
The much-anticipated catfight in Bloemfontein produced a 25-20 victory over the Cheetahs to end a 23-month-long wait for a win in Super Rugby. But since the Lions, they've been less successful, with four losses. Last season the Lions lost all 13 games and since the arrival of former All Black Coach, John Mitchell, have looked a much better prepared outfit. The win over the Cheetahs sees the Lions end the longest winless run in the history of Super Rugby and will be seen as a massive boost for the supporters, who have done a lot of soul-searching over the last few years. Mitchell's influence has seen the men from the City of Gold become hungry for success and although Mitchell said it would take some time before his efforts bare fruit, the signs are already there as the Jo'burg side start to show their teeth.
Yet while the Lions have the potential to go far, the primarily close losses that have followed the great win over the Cheetahs have once again cast doubts on their ability to perform on the day. Mitchell is now reportedly employing a kicking coach to sort out any remaining weaknesses in the team.
On the other hand, the rejuvenation of the side has been monumental in that it has seen young talent introduced and blended with experience. It has also showed in the way the Lions play: their style has changed and it's explosive yet structured enough to get through the many phases in order to cross the whitewash. The defense is better and so is the communication. A lot of work lies ahead for John Mitchell, but the hard yards are starting to pay off. But consistency does remain a problem.