JOHANNESBURG - Now for the Brumbies and a chance to make it 15 out of 15 on their tour in Australia.
That is the challenge that lies ahead for Johan Ackermann’s Lions this week as they head to Canberra for their final tour game against the former champions on Friday.
So far on tour the Lions have bagged 10 points out of a possible 10 having scored bonus point wins against, first, the Western Force, and on Saturday, against the Melbourne Rebels.
The Brumbies though were always going to be the Lions biggest test on tour; the leading Australian team having featured in the play-offs last season and on their way to again being their country’s best placed team at the end of the round-robin stage.
They have 18 points from three wins in nine matches - certainly nothing to boast about - but they are without question Australia’s premier rugby side at the moment.
Stephen Larkham’s outfit have a good sprinkling of Wallaby players in the ranks and are always tough to beat in Canberra.
It’s a match Ackermann knows could go horribly wrong for his team if they are not switched on properly come Friday.
“They’ve got players there with World Cup experience and they’ve shown they can beat any side,” he said after his team’s 47-10 victory against the Rebels.
“They have a lot to play for, like trying to win their conference to give them a home play-off game, so there’s a lot on the line. We have to respect them; they were title winners before, and anything less than our best could turn into a hiding.”
Ackermann added the Brumbies match would be very similar to the two outings the Lions have already had on tour; that is, the Australian sides are not playing great rugby, but on their day they have the potential to beat anyone if they get it right.
“They’ve got enough quality to hurt you if you don’t prepare well and play well,” said the Lions boss.
“Their performances have been up and down, but it makes it more difficult because you don’t know what you’re going to get.
"They’ve got the potential to smack you on the nose.”
The win against the Rebels was the Lions’ seventh in a row this year after they came unstuck against the Jagaures in round three - their only defeat in 10 matches - and they’re now well set to challenge for top spot on the overall log to give themselves an excellent chance of going one step better than last year and winning the competition.
After 10 matches they’ve got 42 log points; not quite the 46 of the leading Crusaders, but the New Zealanders have a far tougher run-in than the Lions.
Ackermann’s team’s remaining fixtures are against the Brumbies (away), Bulls (home), Kings (home), Sunwolves (home) and Sharks (away), while the Crusaders still have to face the Hurricanes (home), Chiefs (away), Rebels (away), Highlanders (home) and Hurricanes (away).
Despite the weekend’s emphatic win against the Rebels, Ackermann said his side had yet to hit their straps, something he will be desperate to happen against the Brumbies as the tourists seek to complete the perfect tour.
“It wasn’t the perfect 80 minutes.
"There were mistakes, like us losing patience with ball in hand and also at the breakdowns.
So there are things to fix,” said Ackermann.
He’ll hope for a perfect performance then this Friday.