Courtnall Skosan of the Lions during the 2017 Super Rugby match between Lions and Reds at the Ellis Park. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - It’s taken four rounds of action but finally Johan Ackermann’s Lions are starting to click into gear.

They ran in seven tries to two to down the Reds in a Super Rugby match at Ellis Park on Saturday and afterwards the Lions boss hailed the performance.

“We were in control throughout the game and the players showed a lot of composure during the 80 minutes.

“Those are things that were lacking in the first three rounds, so it’s a good sign for us. The players looked sharp again, especially the seniors,” said a delighted Ackermann.

The Lions dominated the match, standing tall in defence against some powerful Reds runners, while their attacking play was at the level seen throughout most of last season. Courtnall Skosan was the big hero with four tries, but not far behind was centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who continues to shine in the No 12 jersey.

Also, Andries Coetzee, debutant rookie wing Michael Tambwe, Faf de Klerk and forwards Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel and Andries Ferreira all shone in the 44-14 demolition.

“That was a quality performance against a quality Reds side,” said Ackermann. “We lifted the level to where we know we should be competing.”

Assistant coach Swys de Bruin was full of praise of Skosan and debutant Tambwe. “Scoring seven tries today was great and I’m especially happy for Courtnall,” he said.

“He’s a special player, a leader and he trains so hard. Tonight was a special night for him.

“And what can I say about Michael ... he’s something else. You saw, he’ll still play many games ... there’s some special stuff hiding in there.”

But as impressive as the Lions were on the attack, they only let in two tries, and that late in the game after the Lions were somewhat disrupted after the replacements had gone onto the field. Defence coach JP Ferreira, who toured with the Boks in November, was pleased with the effort.

“After letting in 10 tries in our first three games I challenged the guys to stand up ... and they did. But we’re going to have to keep that same attitude going forward, keep putting our bodies on the line.”

The Reds had to play virtually the whole second half with 14 men after Quade Cooper was red carded in the 46th minute for a high tackle on Janse van Rensburg, but even so, hooker and Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore said the Lions were a class act.

“It’s no surprise they went to the final in 2016, they were good all year. I think if they’d hosted the final, they’d have won the competition,” said Moore, who didn’t play against the Lions last season because the Africa 2 Conference played against the New Zealand teams and not the Australian sides.

“They’re a terrific side, and a good example of how a young group of players bought into something and worked hard. They’re a good example for us ... that you can make something from a young group.

“They’ll be thereabouts again this year, no doubt.”

Reds coach Nick Stiles added: “The way the Lions play football, the intensity they bring is incredible ... it’s a great lesson for our guys. It’s where I want to take this team.”

* The Lions will know on Monday how badly injured Jaco van der Walt (ankle), Johannes Jonker (head) and Lionel Mapoe (hand) are. All three left the field on Saturday, with Ackermann saying afterwards: “They could be out for weeks or months, we’ll have to see what the scans say. Them being out though will certainly test our depth going forward.”

The Lions face the Kings in Port Elizabeth this weekend.

The Star