Ackermann praises Lions players

Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has credited the players' on-field decision-making for their success in Saturday’s Currie Cup final against Western Province, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Joburg.

As they’d promised during the week, the Lions maintained their attacking intent, and produced some impressive ball-in-hand play on their way to a four-try 32-24 victory over Western Province at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Lions were particularly impressive in the first half, and used the inside pass to good effect as they regularly breached the Western Province defence.

‘We had a plan and it worked for us, but credit to the players, the space they saw on the inside was all down to their initiative,’ Ackermann said. ‘The holes opened up and they recognised that, and we really made the most of it. Our plans worked well, but while we might have lost a bit of patience and made a couple of mistakes, the good thing is that we took the opportunities when we needed to. In that regard it’s great to see how the players have matured.’

Ackermann said they had always intended to play with the freedom that had got them to the final.

‘We told the players that we were going to win this game by scoring tries, we were not going to go for a 9-6 win, we wanted to stay positive and score tries, and we did that when necessary. We didn’t want to just put the pressure on Marnitz [Boshoff] and make it seem as if he needed to win the game for us with his kicking.

‘To see how this team has grown, and how far they’ve come, it’s been very special,’ the coach added. ‘You can go through the whole squad, they’ve all made a contribution. It’s really satisfying to get to this point and to be able to celebrate with the Currie Cup.’

Captain Jaco Kriel said it had been a complete team effort to go through the entire season unbeaten on their way to lifting the Currie Cup.

‘The team has just done such great work throughout the campaign, everyone has taken leadership and responsibility. It made my captaincy so much easier. You don’t have to tell players what to do, they’ve all just contributed wherever needed, and it’s just been a whole squad effort.’

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis