Ackermann’s men wrapped up their fixture schedule with a 19-19 draw against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday, giving them a competition return of: played 16, won nine, lost six, with one draw. With a bye this weekend, the Lions will finish no worse than eighth overall. They’ll also be second in the South African Conference – behind the Stormers – but ahead of the Bulls, even if the Pretoria side win their final game this weekend.
“We were 12th last year with seven wins and I like to think that with this draw (against the Stormers) we’ve improved to nine and a half wins,” said Ackermann yesterday. “We’ll finish seventh or eighth, depending on what happens this weekend so there’s definitely been growth in the right direction.
“I must, however, be careful how I rate our season. You play rugby to win matches and competitions, not to finish in the middle of the bunch. But, it’s been a positive season for us and I’m really proud of the guys. Had one or two more results gone our way, we could have been right up there. Our time will come though.”
Ackermann said he was especially satisfied with his team’s results away from home and the way the players bought into his style of rugby.
“We won three matches overseas, beat the Cheetahs away and came close to beating the Bulls at Loftus and the Stormers at Newlands. One’s never satisfied with a draw... we really were so close there towards the end, but to think of the quality and experience of the opposition, the fact it was away from home, I’ll say it was a good performance.
“If you’d told me at the start of the season we’d finish with nine wins and a draw and be in the top eight I’d probably have taken it,” said Ackermann. “But I also feel we could have done better. There’s room for improvement and we can still improve our depth, but for the growth we’ve shown I’d give us seven or eight out of 10.
“I’m very pleased though with the brand of rugby we’ve played and the fact the players bought into it and adapted so easily to it. Hopefully the style of our rugby rubs off on some of the other teams... in fact I’ve already seen other teams playing more expansively.
“Looking back over the season, I wouldn’t change a thing. Our players were conditioned brilliantly, we had few injuries and won nine times. It’s disappointing we’re not in the top six, but I’m satisfied and I can assure the fans we’ll be back better and stronger next time.” - Cape Argus
Original source: Ackermann sets sights higher for 2016