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Lions coach ‘very proud’ of Newlands triumph

Super Rugby

JOHANNESBURG – Johan Ackermann has pointed to his team’s accuracy in defence as the difference between the Lions and Stormers following his side’s round eight Super Rugby triumph at Newlands on Saturday.

The Lions picked up a 29-16 bonus-point win against their arch-rivals from Cape Town in the big derby game of the weekend, and in so doing ended the Stormers’ unbeaten run.

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Lions replacement centre Harold Vorster, who was the Man of the Match, gets stuck into the Stormers at Newlands. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix

The visitors outscored the home team four tries to one, but it was their defence that won them the day.

They were especially clinical in their tackling in the 15 minutes straight after halftime when, with the game on a knife’s edge, the Stormers set up camp in their 22m area, but were unable to convert the pressure into points.

The Lions escaped and also survived the yellow-carding of Jaco Kriel to score further tries and win the game.

“The 15 minutes after halftime were defining for the match,” conceded Ackermann afterwards.

“Hats off to the players; I’m very proud of what they managed there... it was an energy-sapping period, but they showed commitment to get out of the situation.

“If the Stormers had scored a try there, it would have been a different game... it would have become a real arm-wrestle.

“That defence right there was excellent. It was full of heart and commitment, and the accuracy shown by all the individuals was excellent.”

Lions skipper Warren Whiteley also hailed his teammates’ tackling. “We knew it was going to be a helluva game... they’re a top-class side.

“We knew we had to be at our best. But in the last few years, we’ve also realised that the best teams bring out the best in us and that was the case here; the Stormers brought out the best in us.

“When we’ve been under pressure, as we were at Newlands, and especially in that period we spent a lot of time in our 22m area, we ground it out and got out of the situation. I’m really proud of that effort.”

Ackermann added it was “special” to get the better of the Stormers on their home turf. “You don’t simply go to Newlands and win. That’s why this is a special win, and while it’s a confidence-booster for the guys, it’s not a win that’s going to define our season.

“We’ve still got a lot of matches ahead of us, including a tour to Australia, and we can still get into trouble. We can’t take our foot off the pedal now.”

Indeed, the Lions face the dangerous Jaguares on Friday and they may well be without the influential Kriel, who faces a disciplinary hearing after his yellow card on Saturday, while centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg will undergo scans on his knee after hobbling off the field early on Saturday.

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