Rugby: Ackermann rues over blunders

Lions players and staff stand dejected after the 2016 Super Rugby final last night. Photo / Getty Images
Lions players and staff stand dejected after the 2016 Super Rugby final last night. Photo / Getty Images

Lions coach Johan Ackermann was left rueing two gift tries as the difference between his side and the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby final.

Ackerman was quick to point to the Lions' contribution to the Hurricanes' two touchdowns to Cory Jane and Beauden Barratt as the difference between the sides while also lauding the local side for its performance in trying conditions at the Westpac Stadium last night.

The Hurricanes won 20-3 in atrocious conditions to lift the Super Rugby title for the first time.

The Lions were competitive throughout the fierce encounter, but with the Hurricanes' brutal defence and ability to capitalise on two "blunders" by the Lions proving key in a close encounter.

A poor clearance kick by Lionel Mapoe, which ended up in Jane's hands, finished with the winger diving over to score his team's first try.

With a little over 10 minutes to go in the second half, the Canes sealed the title after Barratt pounced on a loose ball to score the decisive try.

It came after the Lions stole Hurricanes ball at a lineout, but their forwards were not was able to control the ball and it was kicked into the in-goal area by the host's replacement hooker Ricky Riccitelli before Barratt dived on it and hten converted the try to win the match for his team.

"They took their opportunities," said Lions Ackermann. "It boils down to two incidents ... that's finals rugby. I experienced it as a player (with the Sharks in the 2007 final when Bryan Habana scored at the death to win it for the Bulls) ... we dominated, but didn't win.
"But credit to the Canes. Beauden Barratt was exceptional ... he knew when to kick high and kick long and controlled the game exceptionally well."

Lions skipper Warren Whiteley was equally philosophical, saying his time would be a better side next year for the experience of the first final.

"The conditions were tough, but they were tough for both sides. We didn't adapt as well as they did and they were smarter than us on the day. They took their two opportunities ... our mistakes ... and that's where the score comes from."

The Lions will return to Johanneburg tomorrow and focus their attention on defending the Currie Cup they won last year.

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