Lions in strong position for Super Rugby title

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 09:24

REACTION: After finishing on top of the Super Rugby standings for the 2017 season, The Lions are in a strong position to go all the way can become the first South African team to win the title in seven years.

The Lions' 27-10 win over the Sharks was enough to get Johan Ackermann's side to the summit in the standings after the Crusaders lost the Hurricanes earlier on Saturday.

It means the Lions will have the luxury of not travelling during the course of the play-offs should they go all the way.

"One has to take confidence and joy by being first and now you know there is no game that you will play away from home - It's in your own hands," Ackermann told reporters after the match.

"We are definitely in a better position [to win the title], but in saying that the reality is to get there, we have to be better, because everything is zero now. 

"The log points is not going to mean anything for us."

The Lions will meet the Sharks in the quarterfinals next weekend in Johannesburg and after already posting two wins against the side from Durban, the Lions will be confident of progressing to the semifinals.

However, Ackermann will not let his team fall into a potential trap by looking at past performances.

"To me, if you look at our season last year, the Crusaders came and beat us at Ellis Park and then we replayed them in the quarterfinals and we beat them. So, what I am saying, it is a new game totally. I don't think any of the teams can read anything.

"It is going to be a new 80 minutes. Both coaches I believe will look at tactics and see where they can adjust. 

"It is going to be an 80-minute performance, where the side with the least mistakes under pressure, as well as penalties and discipline, will come into play.

"We are not going to look back at that game [Lions' 34-29 win against the Sharks on April 1] or tonight's [Saturday] game. 

"We are going to start fresh and respect them for what they can bring. 

"It is nice to play at home, but it is not going to the job for us if we don't pitch up and put in a better performance than tonight," Ackermann added.

Ackermann acknowledged that his team will have to improve certain aspects of their game ahead of the quarterfinal clash.  

"I don't think we played with enough intensity, if you compare the other games [in Round 17], I think we all got a lot of hard work to do if we want to go further in the competition.

"From our side, we can only judge ourselves. Just with our accuracy, where we lost ball in contact and it was not good enough. 

"I'm proud of the guys for achieving what they did in the season by being on top of the log and being in the play-offs. 

"The Sharks are going to always test you. The last game at Ellis Park [between the two sides] was also a dogfight and nothing changed today [Saturday]," said Ackermann.

2017 Super Rugby Quarterfinal Draw:
QF1: Lions [1] versus Sharks [8]
QF2: Crusaders [2] versus Highlanders [7]
QF3: Stormers [3] versus Chiefs [6]
QF4: Brumbies [4] versus Hurricanes [5]
Quarterfinal Match Schedule (all times local):
Friday, July 21: Brumbies v Hurricanes, Canberra - 19:35
Saturday, July 22: Crusaders v Highlanders, Christchurch - 19:35
Saturday, July 22: Lions v Sharks, Johannesburg - 14:30
Saturday, July 22 Stormers v Chiefs, Cape Town - 17:00
Semifinal Draw:
Pre-determined draw as follows (highest ranked team to host):
SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF4
SF2: Winner QF2 v Winner QF3


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Fri, 23 March 2018
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Jaguares v Lions 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 4 3 0 1 15
Waratahs 4 2 1 1 10
Reds 3 2 0 1 8
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 8
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 3 3 0 0 13
Hurricanes 3 2 0 1 10
Crusaders 4 2 0 2 10
Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Stormers 5 2 0 3 9
Sharks 4 1 1 4 9
Bulls 4 1 0 3 5
Jaguares 4 1 0 3 4