This weekend we saw the first of the new Cheetahs Super Rugby Squad, and there was not much to see I must add. After the game I needed some comic relieve so I went to the Cheetahs Facebook page to see what the good old supporters had to say, and I was not disappointed.
A lot of them went along the lines of the Cheetahs are going to get thrashed out there, others called for the head of Naka (Which I agree with of course) and then there were the Lions supporters who just had to like the Cheetahs page and comment on the Cheetahs voting out the Lions, no mention of any other unions here though, must have been only us then. Luckily the Administrators are grown men who actually can admit to faults and have buried the hatchet on that matter between the FSRU and GLRU.
There were some strong points from the central franchise which do deserve a mention, our first half defence was something we have been lacking for a while, first time tackles were made and they didn’t miss a tackle for the first 25 minutes, which usually reads in reverse with 25 missed tackles in the first minute. The second half though, things were back to normal… sadly.
Piet van Zyl, Boom Prinsloo, Robert Ebersohn and Hennie Daniller along with newcomers Rossouw de Klerk (fits in well as replacement for WP Nel) JP Nel, Lood de Jager, Tertius Daniller and Caylib Oosthuizen all had a good game, but there were to many players found wanting against a weekend Lions team, Raymond Rhule had a pretty average outing to what he is capable of doing, the yellow card may have been harsh but you need to deal with these things as they happen, Francois Brummer was completely out of his comfort zone and needs to step up his game, Marnus Schoeman was trying too hard to be the next Brussouw infringing time after time, if this was a Super Rugby match, the Cheetahs would have been 14 men for the rest of the game after 5 minutes. He needs to be nurtured and taught when to just let the ball go and wait for the next one instead of trying to turn-over each and every ball. I would also like to see Hansie Graaff start at 10 for the next match, the little chances he had, he impressed, it will be nice to see what he can offer when given the opportunity.
One thing that the Lions did and the Cheetahs need to learn from, is keep the ball and run with it, Brummer and van Zyl persisted with those aimless up and under kicks forcing the Cheetahs back onto the defensive, which we all know is not their strongpoint, attacking is. When the Cheetahs kept ball in hand they looked dangerous and were getting passed the gain-line quite often.
Leadership was also missing, Ebersohn led from the front playing a loose-Forward and Inside-Centre roll, but he needs to calm the players down when the chips aren’t in their corner, once the Lions were in the lead, the Cheetahs were like a dear stuck in the headlights, they couldn’t move nevertheless tackle. Hopefully when Strauss comes back he can help the youngsters out.
I would not call for a complete state of panic just yet, there is a reason we play these warm up games, to iron out all the problems from the off-season, or in our defensive case, the past 3 years. The good thing here is that the Cheetahs can only improve.
Well done to the Lions for showing guts and true skill, Lionel Cronje and Anthony Volminck are certainly players to look out for in this Lions Challenge.
My sincerest condolences to the Jantjies family with the loss of their father this past weekend.