Sean Everitt: Lions are better prepped than Covid-19 stricken Springboks

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  • Sharks coach Sean Everitt feels the British and Irish Lions have apreparation leg up on the Springboks.
  • Ahead of the first Test between the Boks and the Lions on 24 July in Cape Town, the Lions have played three tour games while the Covid-19 afflicted Boks have only played one Test.
  • Everitt hoped the Boks took something from the Sharks’ energetic first-half performance against the Lions in Pretoria on Saturday despite the eventual 71-31 defeat.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt said the British and Irish Lions definitely have the preparation leg up on the Springboks ahead of the landmark Test series.

In beating the Sharks 71-31 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday in a game that was marred by Jaden Hendrikse’s 46th-minute sending off, Warren Gatland’s side played their third tour game.

They were supposed to have played the Bulls, but that game was called off because of Covid-19 cases in the Bulls camp.

The Boks returned to training on Sunday after several Covid-19 cases halted their preparations and had the planned second Test against Georgia cancelled. 

The Sharks, who were beaten 54-7 by the tourists on Wednesday, happily stepped in for a second game and one Everitt felt was of significance for the Lions.

“It does push it in their favour with the Springboks stuck in their hotel. I guess that’s why the Lions took on another game against us in order to get more familiarity with conditions and looking at their own combinations,” Everitt said.

“I suppose they’ve got a bit of an advantage, but the Boks will be sitting in the hotel looking at this game and saying the Sharks really pushed them.

“From a physicality view, they would have seen some of the opportunities we’ve exploited, but the game time is very important for the Lions.”

While the final score tells of the Sharks being consummately manhandled by the Lions, they were tied at 26-26 before Hendrikse’s red card.

When Werner Kok scored their fifth try, they trailed 38-31, but things went south very quickly from there with the Lions dominating.

Everitt looked at the game from a glass half full perspective, saying that the hotel-bound Boks should have taken lessons from how they negotiated the first half.

“For our young team, and I when I say young, it’s because we have a lot of 21-year-olds, if they can be matched physically, something the Boks can do, it’ll open up opportunities like it did for us,” Everitt said.

“If you put them under pressure and their kicking game doesn’t work, you can hurt them like we did.

“We put them under pressure defensively in the first half and they made errors. There are opportunities for the Boks and they will have learned from these two games.”

One of the collective stand-out performances from the Sharks was that of their back row in Phendulani Buthelezi, Celimpilo Gumede and Dylan Richardson.

“That loose trio was playing Under-21 rugby last year and I thought they were outstanding. They matched the physicality of the British and Irish Lions,” Everitt said.

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