Lions to stick with winning recipe

Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)
Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The Golden Lions will not make any changes to what clearly worked for them this season when they host the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup semi-finals at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

Boasting a 10-out-of-10 winning record during the round-robin stages of the competition, the Lions would be foolish to deviate from their winning recipe.

Coach Johan Ackermann said the team will not approach the match any differently because it is a knock-out game.

“I personally don’t think you need to change too much because it is a semi-final, you have to stick to what you’ve done throughout the whole season,” Ackermann said.

“I know it is a semi-final but the main thing is the guys are hungry enough and know we haven’t achieved anything.

“We just need to keep on doing what we did to get into the semi-final and playing good rugby, then the result will look after itself.”

Last year’s losing finalists face a Cheetahs side that blew hot and cold this season, and will be looking to avenge the 73-31 home drubbing they received at the hands of the Lions.

The Cheetahs showed immense character over the weekend when they scored two converted tries in the last four minutes of the match against the Sharks for the draw and a place in the semi-finals.

Ackermann said his side needed to be spot on with their planning for the Cheetahs, who will pose various challenges for his side.

“Looking at the Cheetahs we know our defence must be a priority and on attack if we have good set phase then we will be okay,” he said.

“They are a side with players with X-factor all over the park and therefore our defence must be good.

“From a strategy and preparations point of view we are quite settled, so we will have the same routine, and we will strategise like usual on a Monday morning.”

Meanwhile, Ackermann confirmed Jaco Kriel will captain the side in the playoff match since he led them onto the field for most of the campaign.

He said Warren Whiteley, who wore the captain’s armband in the victory over Griquas at the weekend would be given a break from the added pressures.

“In all fairness to Jaco Kriel I made him captain when Wazza (Whiteley) was with the Boks and he did a good job,” Ackermann said.

“I had a discussion with Warren and it was a good break for him mentally and he also shares that leadership on the field.”

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