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Lions to go deep in Kimberley

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 12:59
Jaco-kriel-griquas630 Johan-ackermann630 Johan-ackermann-h_s-630
We are lacking territory which comes through making mistakes in our own half
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Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann wants his team to play their rugby in Griquas' territory as they seek revenge in Kimberley this weekend.

The defending champions were stunned by Pote Human's team when the teams met in Johannesburg earlier in the season, but they have since gone on an impressive four-match winning streak, notching crucial away victories in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town to top the log.

Ackermann admitted that the defeat to Griquas had forced his team to take stock of their approach to the Currie Cup, and emphasised that they will have to increase their focus even more as they seek to secure home advantage in the semifinals.

"I think we have improved, I think that loss helped us to recognise a lot of things, but on that night specifically Griquas were exceptional and they played a great game of rugby.

"We weren't there physically or mentally and it showed us that if you are not there then you are going to get exposed.

"We need a win and they need a win to stay in the Currie Cup so it boils down to the team that wants it the most and the team that is going to be the most clinical," he said.

The Lions coach was satisfied with his team's gritty performance against Western Province at Newlands last week, which saw them tackle their way to a deserved victory, but made it clear that although they showed great character there is still much to improve on.

"We have seen it in the past that as much as attack is important you have to back it up with the defence and I think that currently we are going alright there but there are obviously still some work-ons," he said.

Ackermann is desperate to see his team dictate the game by dominating territory and making more intelligent use of their possession, and has called for a more accurate display in Kimberley this weekend against a dangerous Griquas side.

"We are still not clinical enough with the ball on attack and the penalty-count was a bit high on the weekend. They were stupid penalties that either released the pressure on Province or the other way around where as soon as we scored we gave penalties and points away in our own half.

"We are lacking territory which comes through making mistakes in our own half, by kicking the ball out directly or losing a line-out so we are still striving for the perfect game and we are working hard on that," he explained.

Although they may not be producing the complete rugby that their coach is after just yet, the Lions have shown plenty of unity under the leadership of captain JC Janse van Rensburg, and Ackermann admitted that their ability to win close games is highly encouraging with the play-offs in mind.

"Confidence comes through winning and the most important thing is when the players get opportunities - even if it is a small one like Deon Helberg got at Newlands - they must take them.

"You are only going to get limited opportunities in the semifinal and final as well," he said.

By Michael de Vries
 

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