Ackermann satisfied after Lions romp past Russia
HAVING seemingly put the disappointment of their Super Rugby banishment behind them, the Lions took to their rehab with glee when they downed Russia in the first of their challenge matches at Ellis Park.
They ran in seven tries in what turned out to be a romp in atrocious conditions against a team ridden by ill-discipline. At one stage the Russians had two players simultaneously in the sin bin which meant their intended iron curtain in defence was anything but. “We were unsure about what to expect but in the end I was really satisfied,” beamed Lions’ coach Johan Ackermann.
Despite the trying conditions, both teams displayed enterprise but what would have pleased Ackermann was that his side never lost their shape in the slip, slide, helter-skelter spirit of things.
“As a first up performance it was satisfying. We got the contact we wanted and, although we were never going to be too bothered about the final score, that was pleasing too.
“I thought our defence was good and that the guys showed passion and heart in the way they went about it.”
The coach was particularly pleased with the performances of No8 Willie Britz, lock Franco Mostert and replacement loose forward and debutant Warwick Tecklenburg. He however, had special praise for his midfield axis. “I thought Lionel Cronje was good on the attack and that Harold Vorster and Stokkies Hanekom did really well as a new combination.”
Still, not all the Lions’ pre-season cobwebs were shed. “We identified a few things that definitely need addressing. Our discipline wasn’t bad but I felt there were times it broke our momentum. We didn’t get our drives going the way we wanted and we have to work on our kick-ins.
“The wet ball made things difficult and we lost a few balls in the tackle but that is almost understandable,” opined Ackermann.
As well as the centre combination performed against Russia, Ackermann expects to rotate some of his players for their match against the Cheetahs at Ellis Park next Saturday and Alwyn Hollenbach who has returned from injury will in all likelihood be in the mix.