Johannesburg – The typically soft-spoken Lions coach Johan Ackermann did not mince his words following his side's lethargic performance in their 28-7 defeat to the Crusaders in a Super Rugby match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Johannesburg side produced possibly their poorest performance of the season which reminded one of the struggling Lions of seasons past instead of the side that impressed in their return to the competition.
“I think they were just better than us, better execution, even if we didn't have the bye I think we still would have lost,” a visibly upset Ackermann said after the game.
“We were poor in the air, poor at ruck time, they were just the better team at the end of the day.
“They were more desperate and they probably stuck to their game-plan while we didn't.”
While the match was anything but entertaining, the Crusaders still dominated proceedings in the first 40 minutes of the match.
The Lions were, however, up to the task defensively and kept the tourists from the goalline as they only conceded six points through penalty conversions.
Ackermann lambasted his side for not sticking to the game-plan they wanted to employ in the match.
“We didn't play to what we wanted to play, we wanted to change direction, we didn't get ruck ball and when we kicked, we kicked poorly,” he said.
He also put the defeat down to poor execution by individual players instead of mistakes in terms of the team effort.
“If the players aren't going to take responsibility of the performance then you aren't going to get the result,” Ackermann said.
Lions captain Warren Whiteley shared his coach's sentiments and said the pressure would again be on his side when they take on the Sharks in their last home game before their four-match Australasian tour.
“We as players have to take responsibility to execute the game-plan and stick to what we've trained during the week,” Whiteley said.
“We have to pick it up, we have a crucial week coming up as it our last home game before we go overseas.”
Whiteley said it was not all doom and gloom and there were some positives they could take out of the match.
“There are areas in the game that we can be proud of Ä
defensively and even on our attack Ä there were times that we created great opportunities but forced an offload or two and lost possession,” he said.
“I know we are better than what we were tonight and that is why coach is disappointed tonight and why we as players are disappointed.”
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder was a satisfied man as his side got back to winning ways with the New Zealand franchise the first team to win a match on tour this season.
“I am really proud of them tonight, you know coming here off the back of a loss and we probably lacked a bit of confidence,” Blackadder said.
“We knew we were up against a really good Lions team and we had to play well.
“I am just so pleased the guys went out there and played with a lot of heart and worked their way in and keep the pressure on. So I am absolutely delighted with the outcome.” – Sapa