After nine straight weeks of action – that included a four-week trip in Australasia – the Lions will now enjoy a much-needed week off before returning on Saturday week to play the Cheetahs, the first of their last seven matches.
Currently occupying seventh position on the points table, Ackermann’s team are well-placed to record their best season ever (which was last year when they ended with seven wins). Right now though they can reflect on a good first half of their campaign, capped off with their come-from-behind win against the Sharks.
“We were 14-6 behind and came back to win it so I’m very proud of the guys. They again showed a lot of character out there,” said Ackermann.
The Lions scored three tries in seven minutes either side of half-time on Saturday to take charge of a thrilling match at Ellis Park and hung on for a “fantastic win”, according to captain Warren Whiteley.
“It was a great spectacle,” he said. “I’m really proud of what we achieved here and getting four wins in a row is just fantastic. The Sharks came to play, make no mistake, and a lot of credit to them.”
Ackermann though, while delighted with his team’s victory wasn’t completely satisfied with the performance. “We weren’t good for the full 80 minutes. We played in bits and pieces and as a group we’re disappointed with the way we played. I’m glad about the win, but when they were down to 14 men we had opportunities to score more tries and we didn’t.
“We looked a bit nervous at times and rushed things. We were lacking in our accuracy.”
Indeed, the Lions could have, and should have, scored more tries than the three they got, especially after spending the bulk of the second period camped in Sharks territory. “It doesn’t help if you win 12 out of 14 line-outs, but you lose the crucial ones, and we did that tonight. They turned us over at times and we lost crucial balls; also in the scrums. We have to be more clinical when the chance is there to finish off teams and we’ll be working on that when we return to training,” said Ackermann.
“Yes, we want to score more tries and we’d have desperately liked to get a fourth-try bonus point, but winning is the most important thing right now.”
Ackermann said it was important now for the players to take their minds off rugby and return to the training ground next Monday refreshed and in good shape for the final push towards a play-off spot. He is, however, a little concerned the week off could stall his team’s progress and growth.
“There’s a fine line there. When you’re winning and the confidence is up and the momentum’s with you, you’re hardened and up for the fight.
“Often after a bye teams struggle (to find their rhythm again) so we’ll have to address that. We do need the break though ... not so much a physical one, but mentally. I’ve pushed the guys and challenged them for nine weeks now, including at training, and they’ve stood up to those challenges. Their attitude has been great, on and off the field. They’re a great bunch of guys.” - The Star
Original source: Rampant Lions can start believing