Don’t write the Cheetahs off too soon!

Well the eagerly awaited pre-season tussle between the Cheetahs and the Lions, or should I say Cheetahs B and Vodacom Cup Lions, is done. The game was a good hard tussle for most of the game.

The Lions won 33-17 which to be fair is a reflection of the game. The Lions did deserve their victory and ultimately used their chances far better than the guys from Bloem.

Most people are now writing the Cheetahs off already, based on their first outing of the year against a team full of youngsters that want to prove a point. Take nothing away from the Lions they deserved their win. 

The lions did dominate up front in the scrums as I expected. When Nyakane came on it was more equal with the lions having a slight edge in the scrums. The Cheetahs however dominated the breakdowns in the first half and it was the main reason why they had the lead at half time. Marnus Schoeman drives people nuts and with him and Heinrich Brüssouw in the match day 22, teams will struggle to win the breakdowns against the Cheetahs.This will also give the Cheetahs good ball they need and it can be dangerous for their attacking backline. Schoeman was replaced at the interval and the Cheetahs lost the breakdowns in the second half, getting bad ball and conceding more turnovers which the Lions took and scored.

In the backline guys like Ebersohn, Graaf, Nel, Brümmer, Van Zyl and Geel never played together before and the backline did not flow as well as expected. Graaf is also not a wing and it showed when he made a huge error which lead to a lions try, he also threw a long pass from Graaf that led to the intercept try from Lionel Cronje when the cheetahs were chasing the game. I feel they missed the experience of Adriaan Strauss, Brüssouw etc a lot in the second half. They needed someone to calm them down.

I thought the Cheetahs defence was good and the Lions had to revert to kicking over the defensive line which caught the Cheetahs with their tails between their legs and the lions took advantage of this and made telling scores. The Cheetahs panicked and started to make more and more errors.

One also has to remember that the Cheetahs won against the Stormers in last years warm up game but lost twice against them in the competition and people were also giving the stormers a bit of flack. The Stormers still ended the year on top of the log and the Cheetahs 10th. A few years back the Bulls lost against the Kings in a warm up too!! It would therefore be stupid to make too much of this game.

Apart from the fact that the Cheetahs has a lot of work to do before the competition and  I have no doubt that they will learn from this game. I’m please that the Cheetahs lost this one, last year too much were made of the win against the Stormers and the guys lost the first 3 outings of the season. Hopefully this win will make the players stay humble and keep on working hard.

Like already said a few times this year the Cheetahs were without approx. 11 first choice players. Guys like Goosen, Le Roux, Brüssouw, Coenie and Strauss will make a huge difference to the team.

As for the lions they also missed their stars like Jantjies, Taute, Mapoe, Van der Merwe etc. So its fair to say they were also hampered a bit, but al lot of the youngsters that played against the Cheetahs know each other from age group level and played together before. While a team like the Cheetahs consist of 3 unions (Free State, Griquas and the Griffons). To get the squad to gel before one game is a bit far fetched.

Lets wait and see against the Sharks in a month’s time before we write a team off.

23 thoughts on “Don’t write the Cheetahs off too soon!

  1. BTW, this was actually the Vodacom Cup Lions B :)

    My pick (from the current available squad) for the best Lions side:

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert , 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg(c).

    Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Jacques Kotze, 19 Hugo Kloppers, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Ruhan Nel

    I would like to get another scrummie as backup though.

  2. @ Guntz,
    Jonker hasn’t retired, he is just out for the season at least. Achilles tendon! Good post, it gives me some insight, so Schoeman went off at half time, no wonder, the same happened to us vs the Sharks when Brüssow got injured, we were well ahead at the time. Bissie came on, Brüssow off and the game turned on its head

    • According to wikipedia he has retired due to suffering from a recurring ankle injury but will find out more from a more reliable source.

      Yes, we need someone to protect the ball and when he was gone we did not have anyone to do that. Lappies, Boom and Tertius Daniller are all the same type of players so to have them all on at the same time was a bit stupid!

  3. I don’t think anyone but the most negative of fans would write the cheetahs off after one game with so many stars missing. However, there are definitely some early concerns developing.

    I for one have NO faith in Naka and his team, the Currie Cup debacle is much too fresh in my mind. Some other concerns, we have very little depth at centre. Robert is solid, but Geel and Nel looked poor. JP Nel was never that good and he’s definitely not going to become better after 32…. I hope Sadie is the real deal, but if Robert gets injured, we’re in trouble. Also Daniller had a shocker, haven’t seen him play that badly in a long time. I hope its early season rust.

    That being said, I will always support the Cheetahs, win or lose. Can’t wait for the S15!

    • There is quite a lot of negative fans then. There are concerns but its the first game of the season with half of the players never even played together before. Its like baking a very difficult dish and expecting that on your first attempt everyone is going to be be shouting 5star dish!

      Naka is not a “afrigter se gat” but we can do nothing about that. Remember that the centre combinations of the weekend is brand new, they will come right. It took Rob Ebersohn and Meyer Bosman almost a year to click and then Bosman left. I don’t worry too much yet, I’ll wait for the first 3 rounds and if I have to eat my words so be it.

      Daniller should not play fullback anymore, he is big, strong on defence and attack and should play centre. Thats where I want him. I will rather play Willie Le Roux at fullback!

  4. No excuses for the Cheetahs . Lions had just as much new players . It is the old players that Naka can’t get rid off like Eberson both Dannillers , Vermeulen . Torsten van Jaarsveld , Brummer was just as poor . None of these players should play super rugby .

    • haha you know that the Cronje Brothers played together a lot and thats a big combination where the Cheetahs 9 and 10 played their first together. Ross also played together with Alwyn a few times before while it was Ebersohn and Brümmer’s first time again, same goes for Ebersohn and JP Nel. JP Nel and Rhule and Greef also never played together.

      At the front row the lions again had played at least 3 games together while the cheetahs had their first outing together same goes for the locks and the flanks.

      The lions in turn had Bondesio and Cronje already playing with the other Cronje brother together from last year while the other cronje has played with Hollenbach (even though one or two games). Athony Volminck has played a few games with these guys as well (same goes for Andries Coetzee).

      Willie Britz, Derick Minnie and Jaco Kriel has also played together before

      Get my point?

      I am not making excuses the lions won fair and square, its just that the Cheetahs will gel and get to know each other better by playing games and not on the training pitch!

      Another thing is that Vermeulen did not play a lot of rugby because he was focusing on his studies to become a doctor. He is only 26 and he has the talent, I rated him above Izak VD Westhuizen when they started at the Cheetahs and I think he has it in him to become better.

      Another thing I don’t think Naka has to get rid of players he is the one that should leave. Ebersohn was last year for the first 8 weeks the form centre in the competition. He does play like an extra loosie and is solid on defence thesedays.

      Torsten did not have a lot of opportunities, but Hennie Daniller and Brummer was poor.

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