On their final week of a long month long European tour, the Lions shift their focus back to the United Rugby Championship (URC) as they prepare to take on Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway on Saturday night.
The Lions started their tour with a URC clash against Munster in Ireland at the start of the month, before stops in Paris and Ystrad Mynach in Wales, where they played Stade Francais and Dragons in the Challenge Cup, before their final stop in Galway.
The visitors will once again be playing on an artificial pitch, but with this their fourth game in a row on one it is something they are getting used to.
“We arrived on Monday morning and had our first training session yesterday, so we have been settling in well,” said Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe.
“The artificial pitch is a bit of an adjustment for us but we are getting used to it. I think just the bounce of the ball is a bit unpredictable on the artificial. But for me as a wing I feel I am a bit more pacey on the surface so I am enjoying it.”
The Lions had been on a poor four match losing streak that stretched back to their last two URC games in December against the Sharks and Stormers, followed up losses against Munster and Stade Francais, but they managed to break that streak with a gritty win over the Dragons.
They will now look to take the confidence built from that performance into their clash against Connacht, at a ground that no South African side has triumphed at yet.
“We really needed that win. It was a great feeling for us to get back to winning ways. We were on a four game losing streak so we said to ourselves that we really have to turn this tour around and make some good memories if we win,” said Van Der Merwe.
“So our focus now shifts to the URC and we have to get a win against Connacht on Saturday to get ourselves back into the URC hunt.”
In the Dragons match Van Der Merwe scored an eye catching try, after a superb break by prop JP Smith, who showed a great turn of pace and perfect offload to set the wing on his way, which was a big moment in the match.
“That’s the type of player that JP is, he is a very skilful player and can play amongst the backs. Two kick-offs prior to that actual move he said to me that it’s on and I must be ready,” admitted Van Der Merwe.
“When the flyhalf kicked on the pod again I sort of readied myself for it and he gave me the perfect pass. Even coach Albert (van den Berg) joked with me and said JP had to slow down for me to catch up. So, credit to JP and his rugby brain for analysing the situation and being able to put me away.”