Ackermann: Good start was vital
REACTION: Lions head coach Johan Ackermann believes that his team's good start to the game created the momentum which saw them defeat the Crusaders 42-25 in their Super Rugby quarterfinal at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Ackermann pointed out that the Lions knew they had to start the game on the front foot, after suffering at the hands of a sluggish start when they went down 37-43 against the very same opposition earlier during the season.
"We always knew that the start was going to be important. I think the roles were reversed the last time we played them and therefore we put them under pressure. They also admitted afterwards that we put them under pressure to play catch-up and for us, I think that it brought self-belief and confidence," said Ackermann.
The Lions' boss added that the Malcolm Marx try just before the break was the perfect end to the first half as it gave his team plenty of confidence going into the break, especially after their impressive start to the game.
"I said to Swys [de Bruin] that a try to go in at half time 22-10 would be perfect and the guys got the penalty, they backed the kick to the corner and we got that try. It was meant to be, so we are proud of that and we always back that decision [to go for the corner]," explained Ackermann.
When questioned on the decision to go for the line-out which resulted in the try just before the break, Lions captain Warren Whiteley said that the decision was made amongst the entire team.
"I can't take credit for that. We've got a leadership group on the field so it's not just the individual decisions. We have a leadership ground on the field and we will have a quick discussion, so it's not just myself. I rely on a couple of guys on the field," said Whiteley.
Looking ahead to next weekend's semi-final with the Highlanders, Ackermann was full of passion as he sent out a message for all Lions supporters to fill the stands and rally their team all the way to the final.
"We want to thank the supporters that came out but we need more for next week. We really want to see if we can fill the stadium, it really helps and makes it tough for the visiting sides," explained Ackermann.