Lions pay dear price for victory
Lions pay dear price for victorySHARE
Lions coach Johan Ackermann's worst fears were realised, following injury to two key players in his team's 19-12 win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
With their final pre-season outing, before their return to Super Rugby in a fortnight, against the Sharks at Ellis Park on Friday, the last thing Ackermann needed was serious injuries.
However, both fullback Andries Coetzee and lock Rudi Matthee are set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"The negative is the two injuries," Ackermann said in his post-match reaction, following the trip to Port Elizabeth that saw the men from Johannesburg made to battle for the win.
"Andries Coetzee suffered a knee ligament injury and he has gone for scans," the coach said, adding: "The fact that he can't put any weight on it means it could be serious."
It was confirmed that Coetzee suffered a medial cruciate ligament tear and will be out for approximately six weeks.
Rudi Matthee went for X-rays and it was confirmed he will be sidelined for eight weeks with an arm fracture.
The good news is that three players recovering from shoulder injuries – Springbok Elton Jantjies, wing Anthony Volmink and prop Ruan Dreyer – are all making good progress and are expected to return to action within three weeks.
Ackermann was happy that the Kings put his team under pressure and said they got some "valuable" match fitness from the outing.
"You won't get an error-free match," he said, adding: "Also the contact [we got out of the game] – eight of our players did not feature in last week's [first pre-season] outing.
"You could see [those] eight guys were a little rusty – you could see the tempo was [touch too] high for them."
Ackermann felt his team created plenty of opportunities, but lacked the finishing ability – something they will work on in the next two weeks ahead of their return to Super Rugby – against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 15.
"Stefan Watermeyer looked very impressive and Chrysander [Botha] made a clean break. I feel we created good opportunities, our scrum was good in the first half and at times we looked dangerous when we started moving the ball."
The Lions mentor said one of the other big negative – apart from the injuries – would be the breakdown, where the ball was simply not controlled enough and that put pressure on the scrumhalf.
"When we got line-breaks we did not finish them, with some 50-50 passes and other errors.
"Our line-outs were also not good for me. I feel both teams struggled with the line-outs.
"We did steal a few balls on their throw. However, what was most concerning was that we often slapped the ball back [and didn't control it] in the line-outs. We will have to work on our set pieces."
He praised his team for their commitment when under pressure.
"When the Kings broke our lines we scrambled well."