Combrinck thrives on big moments
SUPER RUGBY REACTION: Lions captain Jaco Kriel admitted that he had his doubts about Ruan Combrinck having a shot at goal which proved to be the winning kick in his side's 23-21 victory over the Sharks in their Super Rugby quarter-final encounter.
Having missed an earlier kick at goal, Combrinck was adamant that he wanted to kick the penalty even though the call from the sideline was to kick for touch.
"I had my doubts after he missed his first kick and the decision from the sideline was to kick for touch but when I looked again, Ruan [Combrinck] had his tee in his hand. If you know his character, you will know that he is always looking for an opportunity for a big moment," Kriel said.
Landing that vital kick did not take away from the fact that throughout the 80 minutes, the Lions struggled with both their line and goal kicking but Kriel refused to lay the blame on any player.
"I believe you can't put it [kicking problems] down to one player because that's not fair if the whole team hasn't put in the performance they should have. We made small mistakes and created opportunities that we never took.
"When we made mistakes in their [Sharks] half, that's where they got their energy. All credit must go to the Sharks though, they defended really well and kept us out. They put us under a lot of pressure but credit to our players for pulling it through in the end," Kriel added.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann admitted that despite their inaccurate performance, they will not change their approach to the game.
"Our [game] plan is the right way [to play], we just need to finish our chances. I don't think we will change much at this stage because it's just [our] decision making that was lacking [against the Sharks].
"We will take it [the win] and I'm grateful for that but credit to the Sharks, they really played well and put us under a lot of pressure. But then again, we must look deep at ourselves as well - to throw an intercept pass in a knockout game is putting yourself on the back foot.
"We had a lot of line breaks in the first half that we didn't finish. The credit must go to the players for the fight they showed but the whole 80 minutes was not good enough. We are lucky to get away with the victory and a lot of work needs to be done if we want to go further [in the competition]," Ackermann said.
Ackermann had no doubt that the match itself was going to be tough, especially playing the same opposition in consecutive weeks.
"We knew it was going to be tough and that they would put pressure on the breakdown and be a lot more physical but we felt that if we could just score, we could put water on the fire but the fact that it went the other way.
"That deviated from our plan and kept them confident. It's only when we scored our two tries and took the lead that we saw there is a bit of doubt [in the Sharks] - but they showed a lot of fight to score under the posts and put us under pressure," he added.