Lions not looking past Sharks

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 11:52

REACTION: Even after securing 2017 Super Rugby Africa two conference honours for the second year in succession, Lions coach Johan Ackermann is not getting carried away with his teams achievements yet.

The Lions ran in 14 tries en route to a 94-7 bonus-point victory over the Sunwolves in their Round 15 Super Rugby match at Ellis Park at the weekend.

The Lions came within two points of setting the record for the biggest winning margin in Super Rugby history and a few other records.

The record for the largest winning margin was set by the Bulls - en route to the first of their three titles - when they beat the Reds 92-3 on5 May 2007. That is followed by the Lions (against the Sunwolves at the weekend) and Crusaders, who beat the Waratahs 96-19 in 2002.

The Lions' 94 points is also just two short of he Crusaders' 96 in 2002 and ahead of the Bulls 92 in 2007.

The 101points is the third highest aggregate in a match - behind the 137 set when the Chiefs beat the Lions 72-65 in 2010 and the 115 when the Crusaders beat the Waratahs 96-19 in 2002.

The win left the 2016 Super Rugby runners up breathing down the neck of the unbeaten Crusaders (63 points), with two points now separating the Lions (61 points) from a first place finish.

The Lions and Crusaders have already book the top two spots on the standings.

The Lions have a bye next weekend before they travel to Durban to take on the Sharks in the last round of regular season matches before the Super Rugby play-offs.

Ackermann said that he is proud of his team for winning Africa Two conference.

However, he pointed out that the Super Rugby trophy is the silverware which his team is really after.

"It is an achievement [winning Africa Two conference] that we are proud of, but nobody is going to remember that in a few weeks time or in a few years time, they only remember the guys who lift the Super Rugby trophy," said Ackermann.

He pointed out there are a number of "hurdles" to overcome before hey can even think of a place in the Final and that their only focus is the next match - the Sharks.

They HAVE to win that one, maybe even get a bonus point, if they are to have any chance of overtaking the Crusaders - who play the Hurricanes in the final round of league matches.

Stand-in captain Jaco Kriel added that the Lions experience of making it all the way to the 2016 Super Rugby final has taught them valuable lessons which will prepare the team well for the knockout stage of the tournament.

"I believe last year was a really good experience for most of the guys and they know how to handle it, [play-offs] they have a routine behind them now, they know what sort of pressure there is, what they have to do and I really believe we will be well equipped come playoff time."

Kriel added that the Lions will be focused on their next match against the Sharks before they turn their attention to the play-offs.

"We won't jump the gun, we still have the Sharks to play and then we will look how the draw goes and then we will take it from there," Kriel said.

By Josh Isaacson, at Ellis Park
@isaacson_j
@rugby365com

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