JUBILANT Lions coach Johan Ackermann said he felt vindicated after flyhalf Elton Jantjies turned in a match-winning showing with the boot to propel his team to a narrow 26-19 win over the Southern Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.
Ahead of the first leg playoff there was unhappiness among Lions supporters that Jantjies, who had been on loan to the Stormers for the Super 15 season, had been chosen ahead of regular flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff.
“I am happy that we backed Elton,” a relieved Ackermann said after Jantjies booted 16 points in the match.
“I think that the supporters thought I was mad and they were not happy with my decision. But I thought Elton played well tonight. He created a try and did not miss anything apart from one penalty.
“The good thing is that we have the quality of Boshoff to come back and close the game if needed. It is good that we have these two flyhalves,” Ackermann said.
The Lions coach also singled out his two-try hero Stokkies Hanekom for special praise.
“Stokkies is a great player and I think he is still going to get a lot better. From an attacking point of view he is something special.”
Defiant Southern Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons says his battered team “must and will” recover from the match. “We can definitely salvage this,” he said after the Kings slumped to a 26-19 defeat at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday, leaving them with a mountain to climb at Ellis Park.
What could make matters more difficult for the Kings is that star flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis’s fitness is in doubt after he came off the field with an injury on Friday.
“Demetri has injured his AC joint (shoulder joint) and the doctor will have a good look at it and come back to us. It is not looking good at the moment, but we will get a clearer picture on Monday. Demetri is the only player looking problematic for the second leg.”