Ackerman: Reading the referee is key
Ackerman: Reading the referee is keySHARE
The Lions will need to remain vigilant and adapt to any refereeing idiosyncrasies if they are to repeat their first round Super Rugby win.
Having edged the Cheetahs 21-20 to mark their return to Super Rugby last week, the men from Johannesburg host the Stormers on Saturday, knowing they will have to be even more Argus-eyed at Ellis Park.
After being heavily penalised at scrum time in the first quarter last week, the Lions bounced back to dominate the set pieces against an all-Springbok front row after the break.
That, according to Lions coach Johan Ackermann, was because they were able to understand the match official's calls and make an adjustment.
"We did struggle initially with the referee's interpretations," he told this website ahead of their Round Two encounter with the Stormers.
"But when we got that [interpretation] right, we started looking good and the set piece went very well."
Ackermann said scrumming remains an "eight-man effort" and felt the Lions did very well in that regard.
"I am happy with how it turned out, but we have to be more disciplined from the outset," he told this website.
"The referees are very strict at scrum time, so we will have to improve our discipline in hat department."
He said it is a similar situation at the breakdown, where the Lions also need to be very accurate this week.
"The guys worked hard and [hooker] Robbie Coetzee, along with the flanks, did great work.
"That [the breakdown] is an area where there will always be some debate surrounding the referee. The questions will always be asked: 'Did he release? Did he support his own bodyweight?'
"It is an area where you have to adjust to the [interpretation of the] referee. That is an aspect of the game you have to be very good in, both on attack and defence.
He admitted that scrums and the breakdown are the two key areas where you have to be very flexible and adjust to the referee.
"If you have guys like a Derick Minnie, Marcel Coetzee, a Duane Vermeulen, Deon Fourie and Jaco Kriel – all the guys who play towards the ball very well – they will always push the boundaries.
"That is an area where you have to understand very quickly what the referee allows and what he penalises.
"The player has to be accurate in his decision-making.
"If we get that balance right we will do well. It is an aspect you have to work on from week-to."
By Jan de Koning