Ackermann: Harsh lessons learnt

Sat, 06 Aug 2016 15:38

REACTION: Lions head coach Johan Ackermann lamented his team's inability to control possession in the difficult conditions in Wellington on Saturday.

The Lions lost 3-20 to a determined and motivated Hurricanes team in their first appearance in a Super Rugby Final since 1995.

Ackermann believes that the difference was the manner in which the Hurricanes' All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett controlled in the game - which played a big part in the Hurricanes winning their maiden title.

He said there were opportunities for the Lions, but his side had missed some of them and once or twice the bounce hadn't gone their way.

He also paid credit to the Hurricanes, who defended well.

"Maybe on a dry day you could have spread the ball a little more, but they put us under tremendous pressure," Ackermann said.

"It was a great arm wrestle and neither team really constructed tries as both defences were quite good.

"I think Beauden Barrett controlled the game very well and the kicking game.

"A lot of the game was played in the middle of the park and that shows you what a classy player he is.

"It's a lesson we've learned. We will take a lot out of this and hopefully if we can be there again we can take those lessons."

Three years ago, the Lions were relegated from the competition, and Ackermann said despite the result in Wellington there were "a lot more positives than negatives" for his team.

"This season there were some great victories in local derbies - as well as wins over the Crusaders [at home in the quarterfinal] and the Chiefs [away]. Then there was last weekend, when we won against the Highlanders [in the semifinal], which we as a franchise have not often achieved in the past," he said.

"I'm proud of the guys. The result will hurt, but some individuals will get that opportunity to play for the Springboks.

"The rest of us will go back to the Currie Cup.

"It was an amazing season."

Lions captain Warren Whiteley has been left to rue two mistakes by his side.

"They had two opportunities, two mistakes from our side, and they punished us," Whiteley said of the Hurricanes' two tries.

"But I'm still extremely proud of the team and the effort."

"We can't use the conditions as an excuse because it's the same for both sides.

The Lions will return to Johannesburg on Monday and focus their attention on defending the Currie Cup they won last year.

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