Conquering Cheetahs have concern




After three games and two victories in the bag, the Cheetahs are enjoying life at second on the log. But there are some concerns that need to be dealt with.

The Cheetahs have built on the promise of their Super 14 deb’t in 2006 and have come out guns blazing in 2007, smashing the Stormers and garnering the full five points against the Waratahs.

But the two victories have been achieved not without some concern. The loss against the Bulls was created by a slump either side of halftime, while, on Saturday, yet again did the Cheetahs almost succumb to a Waratahs onslaught after having lost an initial dominance that saw three tries in the first quarter.

Chris Waldburger spoke to Cheetahs manager and former Currie Cup-winning captain Naka Drotske about the concerns and triumphs of the past three weeks, as well as the challenges of the future.

Drotske echoes the sentiments of many observers.

“There is a lot of confidence in the camp after the win, but yes, there is a bit of concern when it comes to our play either side of halftime.

“The last two weeks have seen us lose concentration during that period. This will need to be rectified.”

But the Cheetahs are pragmatic in their approach to Super rugby, and the short of it is that a win remains a win, and a bonus point a bonus point.

“We scored four tries against the Waratahs, who historically possess one of the best defence patterns in the competition. Taking five points from our match with them is a huge plus.

“We did lose some dominance, but what a positive it is that the guys were able to soak up all that pressure and hold out for the win.”

Saturday saw the Cheetahs field Darron Nel at number eight in an unlikely move designed to add a jumper to the lineout.

“Darron was added for the lineouts, and, as it turned out, things went really well for us in that department.”

It is subtleties like this on which the structure and strategic intent of the Cheetahs thrives.

But the next round will see a new approach.

“Playing against a New Zealand side calls for a totally different approach. And the Crusaders, after their loss to the Lions, will definitely be up for it.

“They possess many players who can turn a game and have a great ability to make crucial offloads in the tackle.”

The Cheetahs will also most likely be without some of their big guns. Both Jannie du Plessis and Darron Nel are injury concerns and final assessments will be made later on in the week.

The good news is that Bevin Fortuin is fit again and will take part in the Vodacom Cup match this weekend, as will Os du Randt, unless Du Plessis is unavailable, in which case the Springbok legend may be drafted straight back into the rigours of Super rugby.

No doubt the great prop will be up to it.

Meanwhile, Drotske is brushing off reports that the Waratahs are filing a complaint with SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) that they were inadequately hosted by the Cheetahs in Kimberley.

“Last year they complained we slowed the game down, and this year we played it too quick.

“As far as we are concerned the game is over, and we have the five points.”

365 Digital

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