The Lions celebrate after scoring in last week's win over the Rebels in Melbourne. Photo: EPAJulian Smith
JOHANNESBURG - With 10 points in the bag the Lions’ trip to Australia is already a successful one. But Johan Ackermann and Co will want to make it a fullhouse when they come up against the Brumbies in their third and final tour match on Friday.

Coach Ackermann and captain Warren Whiteley will tell the players to lift their game for one last time on this trip, to push hard for the 80 minutes and go for the knockout.

If they manage to do the business - that is win all three games with bonus points bagged, it would be the first time a South African side has travelled abroad for three matches and not dropped a point.

After Friday's match, the Lions have a run-in that can only be described as favourable. They host the out-of-sorts Bulls next week, then the Kings (home), before they freshen up during the June international break, and return for dates with the Sunwolves (home) and Sharks (away).

A win with a five-point haul against the Brumbies would give the Lions 10 wins and a total of 47 log points; a win shy and five points less than they finished on last season after their 15 matches.

While the Brumbies are without doubt Australia’s best side and have a strong history in the competition, it is a game that the Lions should win, provided they stay focused and don’t get drawn into an arm-wrestle. Everything that we have seen from the teams so far this season points to a Lions victory; the visitors have scored many more tries than their opponents, they’ve asked more questions with ball in hand, they’ve hung onto the ball for longer periods and, all-round, Ackermann’s men have played better rugby. The Brumbies have managed just three wins from their nine matches; nothing to boast about.

But Stephen Larkham’s men have a knack for “smothering” opposition teams, as Ackermann called it this week, and not allowing them to play their normal game. They’re strong defensively so the Lions will have to be patient with ball in hand and look to wear the Brumbies down. The last match of a three-week tour is always the toughest. The players often have one foot on the plane home and with the Lions having already bagged two wins there’s a real danger of them losing focus and concentration. The management team though will be hoping this Lions team don’t fall into that trap.

If they hadn’t done so already, there’s an opportunity to really make a big statement; and that is to say the Lions of 2017 are able to win anywhere and at any time, under any circumstances.

Pretoria News

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