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    Akker on THAT last-gasp try

    2015-04-08 14:34

    Johannesburg - Lions hooker Akker van der Merwe, who scored the match-winning try in their Super Rugby clash against the Bulls last Saturday, says he will cherish the moment for a long time to come.

    It was a tough derby between the Lions and Bulls in Johannesburg as both teams gave delivered strong performances in wet conditions.

    The Bulls led 18-15 late in the game, thanks to a sixth penalty from flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter, but the Lions surprised their opponents with a final surge from the resulting kick-off.

    The Lions caught the Bulls napping as they stole possession in the aerial contest, which saw centre Howard Mnisi carry the ball into the opposing red zone. After a series of effective attacks, Van der Merwe eventually burst his way through to dive over for the try. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked the conversion to seal a memorable 22-18 victory.

    “It’s a moment I’m going to cherish for a very long time,” a jubilant Van der Merwe told “It was great to see what the result meant to the team. The vibe in the squad is really amazing at the moment. It has inspired us to play as a team, and to play for each other out there on the field.

    “We now have a tough game against the Sharks this weekend, and they’ll be wanting to make a big statement against us. We just need to remain focused and deliver our game plan in what will be a tough South African derby.”

    Van der Merwe has made a notable rise through the South African rugby ranks.

    He was one of the top talents that emerged from Outeniqua High School in George, where he represented SWD as a schoolboy. He then moved to Potchefstroom, where he played for Pukke and the Leopards between 2010 and 2014, before signing for the Lions.

    “The Lions welcomed me with open arms, so I’ve managed to settle in quite nicely,” said Van der Merwe. “The squad consists of many young players, which helped me to gel in quickly.

    “I love the attacking rugby the Lions pride themselves on. It suits the type of game I offer as player.

    “I just want to keep making an impact for the Lions this season. Hopefully, I can enjoy many more moments like the one I experienced against the Bulls. I’d also like to attract the national selectors with my performances in the near future.”

    While his real name is Armand, the 23-year-old adopted the nickname “Akker” as a young player.

    “It’s a family nickname passed down generation by generation,” Van der Merwe explained. “My father and grandfather were called “Akker”, and they both played rugby. My dad played for SWD.”

    Off the field, Van der Merwe enjoys gaming and shares a house with team-mates Jaco Kriel and Andries Coetzee.

    “I used to be very involved in golf, but after a serious shoulder injury, I spent more time on the X-Box,” said Van der Merwe. “Right now, I’m really enjoying the game Far Cry. I also play a bit of Modern Warfare and FIFA. I used to play against Jaco and Andries quite a lot, but they’re not much of a challenge anymore!”

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