Johannesburg – Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann says their 62-23 demolition of the Blue Bulls over the weekend evened out the Currie Cup log and kept his side in the running.
“At least it brought the log back...and there are positions up for grabs,” Ackermann said ahead of their fourth-round match against Western Province at Ellis Park on Friday.
“Whereas, if we'd lost and stayed on one point, it would have made it more difficult.”
However, Ackermann warned, they were not out of the woods yet and they could ill afford to take their foot off the gas.
“One or two games (losses) and the whole thing can change again,” he said.
“It is a small relief but there is still a lot of work to do.”
The Lions would face a tough challenge against the log-leading Capetonians, who came away with a draw in the first round followed by two one-point victories.
The Johannesburg-based side had shown encouraging signs of improvement and could easily have won their first two matches had they converted their opportunities.
Meanwhile, Ackermann made a handful of changes to the side which demolished the Bulls.
Prop CJ van der Linde would start ahead of Jacques van Rooyen, while fiery flanker Willie Britz moved into the second row, to replace the injured Chris van Zyl.
The Lions would field a changed loose trio to the one which had the Bulls' number at Loftus Versfeld.
Warwick Tecklenburg and Lambert Groenewald both received starting berths, and would combine with Lions captain Derick Minnie.
Groenewald slotted in at eighthman in Britz's place, while Tecklenburg replaced Jaco Kriel, who moved to the bench.
Elton Jantjies would start at flyhalf with Marnitz Boshoff shifting to fullback for the injured Chrysander Botha.
On the bench, Hugo Kloppers, JJ Breet and Andries Coetzee were all new inclusions.
Ackermann said they would not be naive enough to believe their victory against the Bulls was a flawless performance.
It was a closely-contested match up until the 49th minute when Bulls prop Morne Mellett copped a yellow card.
At that stage in the match, the Bulls held a narrow 23-20 lead over the Lions.
In the 10 minutes Mellett watched from the sidelines, the Lions scored three converted tries to take the match away from the Bulls.
“There are always areas to work on. We know we can do better on defence, we leaked tries and our kick-chase lines could get better.
“We are not happy with our one-on-one tackling. We are not at the percentage where we want to be and we can even improve on our attack.”
Lions team: CJ van der Linde, Willie Wepener, Ruan Dreyer, Willie Britz. Franco van der Merwe, Warwick Tecklenburg, Derick Minnie (captain), Lambert Groenewald, Guy Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Anthony Volmink, Dylan Des Fountain, Robert de Bruyn, Deon Helberg, Marnitz Boshoff, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen, Hugo Kloppers, JJ Breet, Jaco Kriel, Tian Meyer, Andries Coetzee. – Sapa