In a game where both teams were happy to throw the ball around, the Lions stood firm in the opening 10 minutes and right at the death when the Chiefs piled the pressure on the visiting team.
Ackermann’s men were seriously under the pump in the opening exchanges, spending most of time camped in their own half and it was no surprise the Chiefs went 3-0 ahead after a penalty in the 11th minute. Crucially though, the Lions’ defence held, repelling wave after wave of Chiefs attack, allowing the visitors to settle and get into the game. And, later on, with the Chiefs having to score a try to win the game, the Lions again showed tremendous character to keep them out.
The Lions’ scrumming has been a thing of beauty for some time now and on Saturday it again stood out. They lost only one of 12 scrums, putting the Chiefs on the back foot and not allowing them a solid platform to launch their dangerous backs.
The excellence at set-piece also led to the Lions winning numerous penalties, which Elton Jantjies either turned into points or used to get the Lions out of their territory. And it is now clear that Ackermann can pick who he wants to in the tight five, his players will deliver the goods almost every time.
The loose trio
Warren Whiteley, Warwick Tecklenburg and Jaco Kriel have no equal in SA rugby. They were good last year and have continued their impressive form this season; the trio play brilliantly together and make life hell for the opposition.
Openside flank Kriel made a staggering 11 ball carries in the game, compared to his opposite number’s four (Sam Cane), while Whiteley and Tecklenburg had six carries each. Kriel also beat five defenders during those carries ... a player who simply does the business week in and week out. And, let’s not forget the phenomenal work the three do at the breakdowns; on Saturday they helped the Lions win 97% of their ruck ball, compared to the Chiefs’ 84%.
Like the loose trio, the combination of Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies is again firing, like last season. After a decent, but rusty start against the Sunwolves the previous week, the partnership of De Klerk and Jantjies was back to its best against the Chiefs, overshadowing the All Blacks pairing of Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Cruden.
De Klerk is lively, quick to the breakdowns and on the mark with his passing, while Jantjies’ decision-making and distribution stood out. He missed a few tackles, but he was outstanding as his team’s director, while his goal-kicking, particularly in the first half, ensured the Lions got their reward for dominating.
When Damian McKenzie and James Lowe scored converted tries in the 50th and 55thminutes one sensed the Lions would probably run out of steam – especially after their travel schedule – but they simply got back to the job at hand and hit back almost immediately with a converted try by Whiteley.
It epitomised the Lions’ never-say-die attitude, rather than tightening things up and reverting to the boot, and you’ve got to commend them for that. No situation or opponent, it seems, worries the players; they simply play for each other and for the enjoyment of being out there and it’s bringing them rich rewards right now. - Cape Times
Original source: Five reasons for famous Lions victory