Whiteley hails 'one of the best' wins
Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - Their 27-22 victory over the defending
Super Rugby champion Waratahs in Johannesburg on Saturday set the standard for
future Lions performances.
Inspirational Lions captain Warren Whiteley said his
side faced one of their biggest tests this season which they passed with flying
colours to romp to their ninth victory in the competition.
“This was a huge challenge for us and we have a lot of
respect for the Waratahs and what they’ve achieved being the defending
champions and also one of the front runners in the competition,” Whiteley said.
“This definitely upped our belief again and we set a
standard tonight, this must be one of our best performances this year.
“Now we have to keep this standard, that is really
important, we need to stay consistent.”
The Lions produced a superb first half of rugby where
wing Ruan Combrinck scored a brace of tries which gave his side a 17-10 lead going
into the half-time break.
Just two years after being relegated from Super Rugby,
the Lions are now two points off a playoff berth with a seventh
place on the overall log.
Although Stormers fans are already licking their lips
over the prospect of a home semi-final, the Lions could spoil their party when
they face each other in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Johannesburg franchise have a bye in the final
weekend of the regular competition and even if they beat the Stormers next
weekend, they could fall desperately short of the playoffs.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann believes if his side
produced a similar performance against the Stormers, they could come out on
“If we can play with the same intensity then hopefully
we can be in for a shout but the small little mistakes were still there if I
have to be critical about the performance,” Ackermann said.
“It is going to be a massive challenge against the
Stormers side that I still think is the favourite to get into the playoffs.
“We had a number of line breaks where we didn’t
finish, the Stormers are one of the best South African sides and if we are
going to have the soft moments then we still have to up the performance.”
The Lions allowed the Waratahs to fight back from
27-10 down, leaking two tries in a space of six minutes to Adam Ashley-Cooper
and Rob Horne.
The hosts made it difficult for themselves to close
the game in the final stages with flyhalf Elton Jantjies missing three shots at
Ackermann said the match went according to the script
as they were looking to start the match with flurry to hold an early advantage
over the tourists.
“Credit to Swys de Bruin and JP Ferreira (assistant
coaches), everybody in their different areas had a plan and it was perfect
especially when we received kicks our plans worked to perfection,” Ackermann
“A lot of the credit must go to the players and my
assistant coaches for the effort they’ve put in and analysis.
“That created the good start for us, the reward of
those first points on the board.”