"If that was a NZ side we would have got punished"
Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann pronounced himself satisfied with his team’s win over the Southern Kings on Saturday, but not with their performance.
Ackermann credited the Kings for a brave performance, especially in the second half where they made the more fancied Lions look flat-footed and out of sorts, but the team was never in danger of losing a fixture they wanted and succeeded in getting a bonus point from.
After leading 35-12 at halftime after a massive first half blitz, the Lions shut up shop in the second half and were uncharacteristically bad, allowing the Kings to dominate most of the half before scoring near the end of the game to ensure they took full points from the fixture.
Ackermann though, isn’t happy – although he did have a wry smile that this could well be the best result for the team ahead of Saturday’s showdown with the Cell C Sharks, as his team got what they wanted, but still have a lot to work on before they take on their nearest rivals in the African conference.
“We’re grateful for the victory. We can’t take anything for granted and the Kings have definitely improved, they are getting better and there are great players all over. We didn’t have a great week of preparation and there was a stomach bug going through the team so we had to cancel Thursday’s practice. We didn’t want to underestimate them and they started well with that charge down. It was a good fightback and some great rugby in the first half but the second half was disappointing.
“We lost our intensity - your focus - we made a lot of handling errors. We kicked when we should have passed.
“There were a lot of things to work on but in hindsight it was the perfect result if you have things to work on and you get the bonus point.
“ If you walked away from here with a bigger margin you will perhaps have taken it for granted that things will happen.
“If we play like that against a New Zealand side we probably would have got punished. It shows you we have to lift our game.”
Lions captain Warren Whiteley said the team was “quite fortunate” in the second half and couldn’t quite pinpoint how they lost their intensity in the last 40 minutes.
“The Kings played with great intensity in that second half and if it wasn’t for them losing possession at certain times they probably would have scored. We were quite fortunate there,” Whiteley said.
“We just lost our intensity, we weren’t playing with the same intensity as the first half. We weren’t getting quick ball, we were disrupted at the breakdown and our finishing wasn’t great.
“Credit to the team. I’m still very proud of the team and we had to score that try to get a bonus point. We know that later in the competition bonus points are worth their weight in gold.
“It was crucial to get that bonus point. They had an opportunity to take it away from us at the end. We know we need a much better effort next week against a quality Sharks team.”
The Lions will regroup on Monday and start preparing for the showdown against the Sharks.