Ackermann seeks improvement

16 July 2017 - 15:38 By Liam Del Carme
Rugby ball
Rugby ball
Image: Cameron Spencer

The Lions have no time to bask in the glory of topping the Super Rugby points table.

Their coronation as league winners was confirmed with a 27-10 victory over the Sharks‚ but the match laid bare the need for some urgent revision before the knock-out stages starting this Saturday with a rematch against the Sharks at Ellis Park.

Coach Johan Ackermann’s message ahead of the quarterfinal was simple: “We have to improve massively”.

“I don’t think we played with good enough intensity compared to other games played over the weekend. I think we have a lot of hard work to do if we want to go further‚” was Ackermann’s candid response.

While it improved towards the end‚ the Lions’ set pieces were far from accurate‚ and the coach also lamented his team’s propensity for losing the ball in contact.

“It wasn’t good enough. We have to look at the penalties we gave away at scrum time. We’ve got a week to fix it. There were also soft moments like the try we gave away.”

Overall‚ however‚ Ackermann sighed with relief that his team went one better than last year when top honours went to the Hurricanes.

Topping the log means they will have home ground advantage in the semi-final and final too‚ should they get there.

“I am very proud of the guys for being top of the log and being in the play-offs. It is now in our hands.”

Although the Lions performed a league double over the Sharks this season‚ Ackermann warned that it will count for nothing this Saturday.

“Last year the Crusaders beat us in the league stages at Ellis Park‚ but then we replayed them in the quarterfinals and beat them.”

Despite two victories over the Sharks and the Durban side’s log position‚ Ackermann wasn’t convinced that the visitors will come into the clash with less pressure or expectation. He gave the near fist thumping reassurance his team will continue their attack orientated style in the knockout stages.

“There is pressure on all the sides‚ especially those hosting. Our mindset will remain the same. We want to honour God for the talent he gave us and we want to score tries.

"The players must enjoy the game. We will still do that on Saturday and the result will look after itself. We will live and die by playing an exciting brand of rugby.”

- TimesLIVE