Currie Cup

Week off didn't help Lions

2015-10-19 12:25
Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg – Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann believes the week break was largely to blame for his charges’ flat-footed performance against a determined Free State Cheetahs team in their Currie Cup semi-final in Johannesburg over the weekend.

Ackermann gave his first-choice players a rest for their final round-robin match of the season ahead of Saturday’s semi which they narrowly won 43-33 to set-up the final against Western Province at the same venue.

"It was a nerve-wracking match and credit to the Cheetahs they really came to play and from the kick-off mistakes crept in for us," Ackermann said.

"Our reaction was slower than usual which I think that can be attributed to the week off where we perhaps lost some intensity.

"In a sense I believe the week off came back to bite us and we were not as sharp as we usually are but you also have to take into account it is a semi-final and everybody is a bit nervous."

The Lions came into the match as overwhelming favourites winning all of their 10 matches during the league phase while they also annihilated the Cheetahs 73-31 in their previous encounter.

However, the Cheetahs were full value on Saturday and with 11 minutes left in the match they still held a three-point lead.

A Jaco Kriel try and two Marnitz Boshoff penalty conversions took the game away from the visitors while two yellow cards in the last 15 minutes of the match did not aid their plight.

While Ackermann was unhappy about the lack of intensity and amount of unforced errors he was still proud of his players for pulling through.

"The guys showed character to get back into the match, so I am proud of everybody and our bench in particular for the impact they made," Ackermann said.

"I was disappointed by one-on-one tackles we missed, turnovers we conceded at the breakdown and the amount of handling errors."

Ackermann said the fact they had to work hard for the victory should hold them in good stead as they face the defending champions in a repeat of last year’s final.

"The game should do us good because we have shed the uncertainty and rust from the last week and we will have to increase the intensity in training this week," he said.

"We saw today and last night (Western Province match) it is a once-off game where you have to be accurate from the first pass and we will have to up our game.

"I don’t think we can play like today if we want to beat them (Province)."

Saturday's final kicks off at 13:15.

Read more on:    golden lions  |  currie cup  |  johan ackermann  |  rugby

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