Lions can be better

Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann. Picture: Lee Warren / Gallo Images.

Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann. Picture: Lee Warren / Gallo Images.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann said their Absa Currie campaign thus far might have been successful but it has been far from plain sailing.

Still unbeaten after four matches their next challenge is on Saturday evening against the maligned EP Kings.

And despite away wins of 31-16 against the Sharks and 41-11 against the Pumas Ackermann believed they didn’t play as well as they could have.

“In the Sharks game we struggled and we didn’t play well but we hang in there, but we created opportunities to win it, the Pumas game as well, up until halftime we didn’t play well, we didn’t kick our penalties out, we kicked the ball dead.

“After a few lineouts we didn’t put phases together and then suddenly in the second half we started taking control in the first phases, and identified the weakness when it happened, and the guys exploited it, and took us over the line, so there’s definitely work to do, we weren’t that fluent, and not so patient in our attack as we wanted to be, and we identified that.

“At the back line, there’s subtle changes happening all the time, with Lionel Mapoe gone, Harold Vorster injured and gone, Alwyn Hollenbach is a campaigner but he hasn’t played that often for us, and then Howard Mnisi had to move to 13 and Bossie (Marnitz Boshoff) and Stokkies Hanekom building a new partnership,

“The wings we changed with Commies (Ruan Combrinck) and Sampie Mastriet coming in, it’s also about us changing the combinations and giving guys game time, and also enforced through injury, it will take time on attack, but when we saw opportunities in the second half and identified where we can exploit, that’s the positive because that’s what will happen in the next couple of weeks when we play the Blue Bulls, Province, the Cheetahs, it’s going to be an arm-wrestle the whole time.”

Ackermann said at times they really had to scramble to find the proper combinations because of injuries.

“Stokkies is a great player and experienced player, we were quite thin at the back, with Alwyn and the other guys out, we don’t have an abundance in every position, also our looseforwards for some or other reason are being tested, but he is a quality player and he brings a lot of confidence to the side.

“We don’t really speak about the log, or about bonus points, we are not yet happy about the type of game we are playing, we know we can be better, there are various reasons, maybe we weren’t accurate enough but we also had different combinations in play, our loosetrio last weekend didn’t play Super Rugby.

“Same with this weekend, the Super Rugby loosetrio of Jaco Kriel, Warwick Tecklenburg and Warren Whiteley isn’t there, which is great for our development, they are getting to know one another, but the most important remain our processes.”

Ackermann said they don’t go on the park with a pre-plan to change four tries.

“I would have taken four from four wins alone as well, so the bonus points were an extra, and we don’t discuss that, it’s important that we win it’s a home game, I know we are in a race with the Bulls but we are not trying to stay ahead or with them, we just want to bring our part to ensure we are there at the end.

“If you look at the Kings, they pushed the Sharks right to the end, they were unlucky against the Pumas and could have won that game, so I’m saying they have improved as a team, we know their situation is difficult, but when we go on the field I expect my team to give their all, regardless who they are up against.

“Such a team could be very dangerous and we have prepared to give our best and hopefully that will be good enough.”




today in print

today in print