Johan Ackermann’s Lions raced into a commanding 35-12 half-time lead against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, and looked to be well on their way to posting a massive score, but then were able to only score one more try in the second period as they ran out comfortable, if not wholly convincing, 42-19 winners.
Their poor second 40 minutes would have ensured the Lions work hard this week ahead of the visit by the Sharks on Saturday.
“It was an away win and we managed to score that late try to get us the bonus point so in that regard it was a positive result for us,” lamented Ackermann yesterday. “But that second half showing also means we’ve got a lot of work to do this week.”
The Lions will be hot favourites on home soil, having won their last eight matches at Ellis Park, but Robert du Preez’s Sharks have, like the Lions, won regularly this season and go into the game on the back of a quality performance against the Cheetahs.
Ackermann said he was disappointed his team, who scored five first half tries to the two by the Kings on Saturday, wasn’t able to kick on in the second spell.
“We played good rugby in the first half, make no mistake. We controlled the game and were in charge at half-time and I was happy with the intensity we showed,” he said.
“But we started poorly in the second half, started making mistakes and the decision-making was also not great. We simply gave the Kings momentum and we weren’t able to turn things in our favour. Sure, the Kings were good in the second half, but we made a lot of mistakes, with our handling especially poor.”
Ackermann though will know his side are much better than the rugby they produced in the second half so there won’t be too much concern ahead of the Sharks match, which is the first big conference clashso far.
The good news for the Lions is that in young Michael Tambwe they have found a quality wing to back-up for - if not push all the way - Ruan Combrinck when he is fit again. The 19-year-old was one of the stars, scoring two tries after also impressing in his debut outing a week earlier.
The Lions will know today whether experienced centre Lionel Mapoe (fracture of the hand) and prop Johannes Jonker (concussion) will be fit to take on the Sharks on Saturday. Both men missed the trip to Port Elizabeth.