Roaring Lions take aim at Cheetahs

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Before their compulsory bye last weekend, the Lions won five out of six games to get themselves into a strong position to push for a play-off place, but Ackermann insists his team are some way off thinking about those possibilities.

“A lot of rugby still has to be played and we’ve got a lot of work to do in the coming weeks,” he said.

“I’m proud of what the guys have achieved so far, winning three times overseas, and backing that up with wins against the Bulls and Sharks.

“But there are no easy games in this competition and we’re simply going to have to be a better team after our bye.”

Ackermann said he was hoping his team would eradicate the little errors that cost them field position and possession in their matches against the Bulls and Sharks.

“It doesn’t help that you win 12 out of 14 line-outs but the two you lose are in the opposition’s 22m area. Those are the mistakes we have to sort out.

“We’ve got to be more clinical when we’re in a position to finish off teams.

“It’s the same with our scrums ... we’ve been good, but we’ve also been turned over at vital times.”

The big question on everyone’s lips this week, ahead of the Lions’ clash with the Cheetahs at Ellis Park, is whether Ackermann’s team will be able to continue where they left off before their bye, or whether they’ll be rusty.

“When you’re winning the confidence levels go up and the momentum is with you, but often after a bye teams struggle to get into that hardened state again,” said Ackermann.

“It’s something we’ve thought about and we’ll address it, but the reality is the guys needed a break ... mentally they needed freshening up.”

This week’s training then was just a case of getting into the swing of things again, something the Lions would probably have found a lot easier to do than the Cheetahs.

Naka Drotske’s men are smarting after going down to the Reds last weekend and on top of that they have to travel to Joburg without the injured Willie le Roux, Heinrich Brüssow and Coenie van Wyk while loose-forwards Jean Cook and Teboho Mohoje are also still sidelined.

On the flipside, Ackermann has a near full strength squad to pick from. Only lock Martin Muller of the regular squad members is unavailable.

Ackermann will name his team tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Drotske has opted to shift Joe Pietersen to fullback for Saturday’s match with Willie du Plessis taking over at flyhalf.

Tienie Burger comes in for Brüssow, while Danie Mienie takes over at loosehead prop.

Cheetahs: Joe Pietersen, Cornal Hendricks, Johan Sadie, Francois Venter, Ryno Benjamin, Willie du Plessis, Sarel Pretorius, Willie Britz, Boom Prinsloo, Tienie Burger, Francois Uys (capt), Carl Wegner, Coenie Oosthuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Danie Mienie. Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Caylib Oosthuizen, Maks van Dyk, Steven Sykes, Carel Greeff, Tian Meyer, Michael van der Spuy, Clayton Blommetjies - The Star

Original source: Roaring Lions take aim at Cheetahs

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