Johannesburg - The Golden Lions may have achieved their goal of reaching the Currie Cup playoffs, but their 35-28 victory over Griquas in a see-saw battle at Ellis Park on Saturday left a lot to be desired.
“I think the whole game was frustrating. We didn’t play well, our discipline was again a problem and you can’t build momentum if you keep on giving away penalties and losing possession,” Lions coach Johann Ackermann said after the match.
“I was frustrated... especially at half-time but again the guys showed character to pull the win off.”
Ackermann said while his team’s display was far from a complete performance they would nevertheless take some momentum into their semi-final.
“If we had lost we would have been sitting here down in the dumps and even if we got a bonus point we would have said we needed to drastically improve,” he said.
“The win will certainly help, but what is good from the victory is that this is the way a semi-final will be won.”
The lead frequently changed hands with Lions substitute Willie Britz breaking the 28-28 deadlock with a try shortly before the end of the match to claim the victory.
The Johannesburg outfit finished the round-robin phase in fourth place and will face Western Province in Cape Town in the early match next Saturday, while the Sharks will host the Free State Cheetahs in Durban later in the afternoon.
“We were a bit lacklustre and we didn’t have a lot of energy and I think in the back of our minds we knew we needed just one point to get a semi-final,” he said.
The hosts needed a single point to secure a semi-final place, but the bottom-of-the-log Griquas had no intention of handing it over on a platter.
The Peacock Blues dished up one of their best performances of the season, which would stand them in good stead ahead of their two-legged promotion-relegation matches against the Pumas.
Griquas coach Pote Human said his players put their bodies on the line in a match where they had nothing to lose.
The Pumas finished an impressive run in the Currie Cup First Division going unbeaten in that competition to claim the title.
“The Pumas are a good side. They are unbeaten in their division, so they will come out and they want to play Currie Cup Premier Division,” Human said.
“But if we can put up the same performance and bring in some players that I rested this week, I really look forward to the challenge.”
Human rested Springbok winger Willie le Roux, Howard Mnisi, Steph Roberts, Ryno Barnes, Marnus Schoeman, Marnus Hugo and Francois Brummer for the match against the Lions.
Griquas will host the Pumas in Kimberley on Friday with the return match set for Nelspruit a week later.