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    Lions' tenacity rewarded

    2014-07-13 16:45

    Johannesburg - The Lions' best-ever Super Rugby season came to an emphatic climax with their biggest victory in the competition, a 60-25 rout of the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.

    As it happened: Lions v Cheetahs

    Lions' coach Johan Ackermann said the landmark result was a testament to the players' dogged determination.

    "We are thankful and grateful for the win... it is good to see everything come together and a lot of hard work went in from the players. They were always positive at trainings and even before that patch before tour and on tour," Ackermann said.

    He said the team's success came courtesy of camaraderie instead of the influence of individual superstars.

    "There will be mistakes and one has to accept that, but if you ask players to play with commitment, passion and pride and they put in the work, then you can't ask for more."

    The Lions were in rampant form on Saturday evening, running in eight tries to the three from the Cheetahs.

    Winger Lionel Mapoe caused the most damage as he grabbed a hat-trick of tries. Ross Cronje, Robbie Coetzee, Warren Whiteley, Andries Coetzee and Corne Fourie also crossed the whitewash.

    Match referee Marius van der Westhuizen also had a hand in the match, dishing out four yellow cards, with three going to the Cheetahs and one to the Lions.

    The visitors from Bloemfontein ultimately played with 14 men for half-an-hour of the match. At one point they only had 13 men on the field.

    While Cheetahs' coach Naka Drotské was unhappy with the yellow cards, he bemoaned the amount of penalties his side conceded.

    "It is impossible to play rugby if you concede 19 penalties to five and three yellow cards," Drotské said.

    Only a year ago the Lions were in limbo after spending a year in the Super Rugby wilderness.

    They however silenced their critics in the best possible way by recording their seventh win of the season for a 12th place finish on the overall log.

    For the Cheetahs this year was a polar opposite of last year, going from featuring in the playoffs in 2012 to being South Africa's weakest franchise, finishing 14th on the ladder.

    The last two weeks were a sample of the Cheetahs' season as they produced possibly their best performance of the year a week ago with a defeat over the pace-setting Sharks, to Saturday's demolition at the hands of the Lions.

    Ackermann said although they would be losing players to other unions and clubs, they were in a healthier position compared to the other South African franchises.

    "We've got our challenges where there are obviously players that are hunted by other unions and hopefully we can hang onto them," he said.

    "We've got the core of the group signed up and ready to go next year. Hopefully we can build on what we achieved this season.

    "As we've seen with the Cheetahs, the Reds and the Chiefs, it will be a new challenge and you can't rely on what you achieved in the previous year. The one year you can be at the bottom and the next year you are at the top."

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    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    24 April 2015
    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

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