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Ackermann opts for consistency

The Lions have made just one change to their starting line-up for Saturday’s clash against the Sharks.

The Lions face the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Lions coach Johan Ackermann on Thursday made just one change to his starting line-up to take on the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Derick Minnie will start at flank, with Jaco Kriel dropping to the bench.

Hooker Robbie Coetzee has recovered from injury and takes his place amongst the substitutes.

Centre Alwyn Hollenbach comes in to provide cover in the place of utility back JW Jonker.

Ackermann believes his team will rise to the occasion this weekend as the Johannesburg-based side look to bounce back from their disappointing loss to the Crusaders, before jetting off on tour next week.

"The performance was under par and it's the small little details that cost us the game. We worked a bit on the breakdown this morning, which was a concern. Hopefully our physical and mental preparation will be better because we're playing the leading side in Super Rugby."

Against a team as efficient as the Sharks, Ackermann believes ball possession is vital if his side is to come out on top.

"The Sharks pressurise you in your half and then wait for the mistakes to come. We have to be better at the breakdown and better in our ball protection. The Andy Ellis try happened because we didn't look after the ball at the breakdown, so if we fix those little things, we can surprise them."

The Lions are known for their running style of rugby.

Ackermann knows fans want to see the team throw the ball around, but says his side need to know when to adopt a more defensive game plan.

"Our team wants to be adventurous, but the moment we ask them to be a bit more conservative they look like they are out of their comfort zone. They must get that balance right because there are times when we can't run the ball out of our 22 and we have to be conservative. Sometimes you have to concede and kick the ball out."

Ackermann has selected a strong bench in anticipation of a tough final 20 minutes.

"Corne [Fourie], Robbie [Coetzee], MB [Lusaseni], and Jaco [Kriel] are players with a lot of 'x-factor'. They can throw the ball around and run with the ball. Ross [Cronje] has been good for us every time he's taken the field. Elton [Jantjies] has the 'x-factor' and Alwyn are always an asset to the team."

Captain Warren Whiteley says the Sharks are very close to being the complete team.

"They've got a strong pack, front row, good scrumming unit, good set piece line-outs and quality backs. I don't think they have too many weaknesses. We just need to focus on what we want to do and play to our potential."

The match will kick off at 7:10pm.

Lions Team to face the Sharks: Andries Coetzee, Deon van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Stefan Watermeyer, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley, Willie Britz, Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener, Schalk van der Merwe.

Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Corne Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, MB Lusaseni, Jaco Kriel, Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Alwyn Hollenbach.

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