Now Lions can put their feet up af­ter em­phatic win

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

and per­for­mance – so re­mark­able is that it came five weeks af­ter the Lions last ran out to­gether as a team, be­fore the June Test break. One would have ex­pected there to be some rust in the game of the South African form side, but there was no such thing as they ran in 14 tries. It was such an em­phatic per­for­mance that Ack­er­mann was able to pull most of his Spring­bok play­ers from the ac­tion in the sec­ond half, put scrumhalf Faf de Klerk on at No 10 and move Kwagga Smith,

to the wing. “I didn’t ex­pect that (kind of per­for­mance),” ad­mit­ted Ack­er­mann af­ter­wards. “But credit to the play­ers ... it shows their com­mit­ment to get­ting to­gether as a team again (af­ter the break). We’re so blessed that things clicked so well for us tonight.

“I couldn’t be more sat­is­fied with the out­ing ... to be able to play Faf at 10, move Kwagga onto the wing, take off the Spring­boks, and get through the game with no in­juries ... that is so pleas­ing.

“Now some of the guys will be given a rest, while oth­ers who haven’t played so much will con­tinue to train. I want us to come to­gether on the Mon­day be­fore the Sharks game with every­one 100 per­cent fit, phys­i­cally and men­tally.”

The Lions dom­i­nated ev­ery as­pect of Satur­day’s game, with sev­eral play­ers pro­duc­ing per­for­mances of the high­est stan­dard, among them Franco Mostert, An­dries Fer­reira, the loose-trio of Jaco Kriel, Ruan Ack­er­mann and Smith, and at the back El­ton Jan­tjies, Lionel Mapoe and Ruan Com­brinck. While the bench made a huge im­pact.

Ack­er­mann said he was most pleased with the fact his team stayed within its struc­ture and plan even though the vis­i­tors hardly chal­lenged them. “One can al­ways ar­gue about the op­po­si­tion and their chal­lenge, but the good thing is we main­tained a de­cent struc­ture, played good rugby through­out, and I thought the in­ten­sity was high re­gard­less of what they gave us. It’s so easy to be­come in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic in a game like this, but that didn’t hap­pen.”

The win leaves the Lions on 61 log points, while the un­beaten Cru­saders have 63 ... and both have one reg­u­lar sea­son game re­main­ing. Af­ter this week’s bye, the Lions will travel to the Sharks, while the Cru­saders go to Welling­ton for a date with the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, the Hur­ri­canes, on the same week­end. If the Lions win and the Cru­saders lose, Ack­er­mann’s team will fin­ish top of the pile and give them­selves their best chance of win­ning the ti­tle as they’d play all their knock­out games at El­lis Park.

“We might have won the Con­fer­ence tro­phy, but no­body will re­mem­ber that in a few years ... they only re­mem­ber the Su­per Rugby ti­tle win­ners,” said Ack­er­mann. “What­ever hap­pens now on the log is out of our hands; all we can do is keep on win­ning and hope­fully the Cru­saders slip up some­where.”

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