We can't just pitch up against the Rebels
Lions caretaker coach Johan Ackermann desperately wants a victory to galvanise the team and move in a positive direction.
The Johannesburg franchise are in a re-building process following the suspension of coach John Mitchell, and from their position at the foot of the Super Rugby log the only direction they can go is up.
The victory over the Sharks and an impressive fight against the Stormers on the weekend, going down 27-17 late in the game, was the start of the improvement Ackermann would have been searching for.
"The commitment and the character of the players came through against the Stomers and we were still in the match with 12 minutes to go," Ackermann told this website.
"I think the team has come a long way already, but we still need to improve our one-on-one tackling and the penalty count was too high."
The former Springbok lock wants to keep some continuity and build on what the team did against the Stormers, where they were particularly impressive at set-pieces.
"I won't make changes in the pack if there is any doubt that they guys coming in aren't 100 percent," Ackermann explained.
"The guys that played on the weekend really stood up in the tight phases and I'll back them against the Rebels."
The coach was also quick to sing the praises of lock Franco van der Merwe, who was excellent in the line-outs, making life very difficult for Stormers giant Andries Bekker.
"Franco showed that his selection to the Springbok squad was on merit and not just because of injuries," he said. "If Heyneke calls on him again I think he could slot into Test rugby without any problems."
The Lions have just two Super Rugby matches left this season - at home against the Rebels and away to the Bulls. The team wants to finish strongly and a final home match against the Rebels could offer the Lions a golden opportunity to record just their third win of the season.
"I desperately want to win this one and I believe the players will also feel that way," Ackermann said. "I want them to go out with the same focus as they would against a top side and we must see the Rebels as a top side.
"The Rebels have improved immensely from last year and are a quality side with a big pack of forwards and also some good outside backs.
"We can't just pitch up against the Rebels, we'll need to play some good rugby."
The Lions are also in a battle to retain their Super Rugby status with no decision surrounding the Kings saga reached to date, so a couple of victories to finish the campaign could be vital to their future.
"We've performed well against top sides in the last two matches and if we can do well against the Rebels and Bulls in the next two weeks it'll show that we can play Super Rugby," Ackermann said.
"If we can win two out of two to finish the season that will be great going into the Currie Cup."
By Timmy Hancox