Ackermann puts his Lions on notice

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 08:00
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The Golden Lions will need to produced a more disciplined and controlled performance if they are to overcome the next hurdle.

The Golden Lions will need to produced a more disciplined and controlled performance if they are to overcome the next hurdle on their way to the Super Rugby promotion-relegation series.

Despite dismissing a young Western Province selection 42-12 in Johannesburg last week, coach Johan Ackermann his earmarked discipline and continuity as key areas for improvement against a far more powerful Sharks selection this week.

The Durban-based outfit, who tackle the Lions at Ellis Park on Friday, will give game time to a number of their Super Rugby stars returning from injury.

Obviously they will be minus their host of Springboks, but there is a whole core of players who didn't feature in their last game - a loss to the Bulls in Durban last month - who are set to be unleashed on the ambitious Lions outfit.

The Sharks are using the encounter at Ellis Park to get the bulk of their squad in shape ahead of their next Super Rugby outing - against the Blues at Kings Park next Saturday, June 29.

And Ackermann is expecting a far bigger test than the trial run provided by a diluted WP team last week.

The Lions will be without a couple of key players - loose forwards Warren Whiteley (upper leg muscle) and Jaco Kriel (ankle) both ruled out through injured.

Warwick Tecklenburg returns from his injury-enforced lay-off and will feature on the flank in place of Kriel.

Whiteley was a late withdrawal; from last week's win over WP, with Willie Brits likely to retain his place.

However, it is the quality of their game, not the quality of the players, Ackermann feels that need to improve ahead of what will be a tricky home game.

"We have to improve our continuity from what we produced last Friday and we need to produce a full 80-minute performance," the Lions coach told this website in an interview.

"We played good rugby for about half-an-hour and then just stopped," he said of the match that saw his side take a 21-0 lead inside the first half-hour, only to allow WP to close the gap to 12-21 - before a late rally took the game away from the Capetonians.

"I was also disappointed in our discipline, so hopefully we will improve that.

"Our one-on-one tackling also wasn't very good - those are the aspects we will be working on this week."

Ackermann said it is vital that the Lions maintain their momentum and improve their expansive style.

"There are certain aspects that we are not happy with in our attack, but that is why we are playing these games, so we can sort all that out."

He admitted his team will not be able to afford as many turnovers against the Sharks as they did against WP.

"That is why I said, continuity is one of the major aspects we have to work on," Ackermann said, adding: "Our goal is certainly not to give possession away.

"We simply can't afford to concede possession and put ourselves under pressure and end up tackling yourself to a standstill.

"We put too much unnecessary pressure on ourselves through turnovers [last Friday], as well as the penalties we conceded - those are the key aspects we need to improve in."

By Jan de Koning