Lions want to fortify Ellis Park

Date published: September 15 2014

Beating WP has given Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann hope that they could turn Ellis Park into an impenetrable fortress.

Beating the table-topping Western Province has given Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann hope that they could turn Ellis Park into an impenetrable fortress.

Heading into the encounter in Johannesburg the visitors were unbeaten so far this season but the Lions showed that teams should not bank on earning points easily as they have claimed their third victory from three attempts at home.

“We hope that the teams would see that it is difficult here, I think every team strive to make it difficult on their home ground,” said Ackermann.

“The guys enjoy playing here and we are proud to have kept our unbeaten record at home in tact.”

The match was a display of everything the South African rugby public hold so dear in the Currie Cup, with both teams playing with reckless abandon.

Since taking the reins at the Lions, Ackermann has made no secret of the brand of rugby he expected of his charges – which was to entertain their supporters with open running rugby.

Late in the second half the Lions had scored five tries before Province added two more in the dying moments of the match to make it three on the night.

“That's why I was so disappointed about the standard of play after the Bulls game when I mentioned the words boring because it was, if you look at the quality of game tonight from both sides,” added Ackermann.

“It was individual brilliance from both sides from Lionel Mapoe, Armand van der Merwe, Kwagga Smith, Jaco Kriel then Cheslin Kolbe for Province with the try he created.”

Van der Merwe was instrumental throughout the match and along with rookie fly-half Jaco van der Walt they kept the Province defence guessing.

Taking advantage of playing at altitude the Lions beat Province at their own game.

“We said at 14-13 at half-time if we can get points early and put them under pressure the altitude and the temp would probably catch up with them,” explained Ackermann.

“When we scored the two tries and started stretching the lead we knew we could pull it through but at the end they made the comeback and luckily time ran out.”

Province coach Allister Coetzee said his team's usually sound defence was tested to the limit and proved lethargic at the start of the encounter.

“One has to start by giving the Lions credit and congratulate them on a good performance and they deserved the win as they played well,” he said.

“They put us under pressure with the ball in hand and we were way off our standard in terms of our defence.”

With time running out and with two tries in the bag with a nine-point deficit, Province captain Juan de Jongh was under the impression they were on three tries and instead of taking the three points from a penalty the visitors went for the try which they eventually scored at the death.

Province nevertheless did well to take a single point out of the encounter, after losing by less than seven points.

Coetzee commended his team for their positive attitude towards the end despite the narrow loss.

“The easiest option would have been to take the three points but we eventually got the try and the bonus point…so we take the one point,” added Coetzee.

“It is a great comeback to score two quick tries in the last 10 minutes of the game which showed this team would never give up.”

The match could prove to be costly for both teams as they suffered injuries to key personnel in the match.

Province lost flanker Siya Kolisi, hooker Stephan Coetzee and wing Kobus van Wyk while Lions lock MB Lusaseni and replacement hooker Malcolm Marx also leaving the field hurt.