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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Johan Ackermann © Gallo Images

We lack intensity - Ackermann

Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann received the gift he was hoping for as his side ended top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log, but he immediately followed up the victory by lamenting the lack of intensity his side had in their win over the Cell C Sharks this past weekend.

Ackermann knows all too well that the success of this year’s Super Rugby campaign lies in being able to outwork and outplay the New Zealand sides, and while the conference has been so lopsided that his team haven’t faced one New Zealand side thus far, they need to find the intensity they need quickly ahead of the playoff rounds.

And while the Lions lost only one game – against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires – they know they will need a much bigger effort if they are to stop the Kiwi sides on the way to the title they dream about.

The Lions coach was happy to be in the playoffs, but said there was still a lot of hard work waiting to be done by his side.

“I don’t think we played at a good enough intensity. If you compare the other games, I think we all have a lot of hard work to do if we want to go further in the competition. From our side we can only judge ourselves. Our accuracy – we lost ball in contact a lot and it wasn’t good enough. I’m obviously proud of the guys for achieving what they did achieve during the season. Being in the playoffs is a lot better than no being in the playoffs. We have to take those positives.

The Sharks are going to test you always. The last game at Ellis Park was a dogfight and nothing changed in this game.

“We ended strongly and there were good moments. We have to look at the penalties we gave away at scrum time and fix it. We have a week to fix it. It is about those small little things. You can’t oversee that, you cant get momentum. Your backs aren’t launching as good as they should. There were soft moments like the try we gave away, we put ourselves unnecessarily under pressure. We have a lot to work on.”

Ackermann said his team would take confidence out of the match, but know that whoever they face in the coming weeks will be desperate to beat them, and they need to be on top of their game.

“One has to take confidence and joy by being first. Now you know there is no game you will play away from home. It is in your hands, so we are definitely in a better position. But saying that the reality is to get there, we have to be better. Everything is zero, the log points will mean nothing for us next week. I said now to Swys that everyone expected the Sharks to throw everything at us, it could have been the Highlanders, the Chiefs, it could have been the Hurricanes or Stormers. The side we will meet next will throw everything at us and we must do the same back. The only difference is we are at home. That is great for us to be in front of our home crowd and be there.”

The Lions have vowed that they won’t change their style ahead of the playoffs. The game may be bigger but the mindset stays the same.

“There will be pressure on all the sides playing in the quarters, even more so on the home sides as everyone sees them as favourites. But I do believe our mindset is like any other game. We have two reasons why we play the game – one is to honour God for the talent he gave us and two is to score tries. That is why we play the game, we want to play an exciting brand. We haven’t changed that mindset in any game and we will still do it on Saturday. We will play like any other game, and the result will look after itself. Thereafter we can look at what’s coming.

“For us it is to improve on this performance. We must massively improve on this result, but we wont add more pressure and say we must be conservative. The guys know we will live and die playing an exciting brand of rugby.”

The Sharks have traditionally played better away from home this season but will need to find the answers they didn’t have at home if they are to beat the Lions this weekend.


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