Gary Boshoff

Do or die tour for Cheetahs

2012-03-07 11:22
Sport24 columnist Gary Boshoff (File)
It was really encouraging to hear that both the Cheetahs and Sharks, despite having lost both of their opening Super Rugby encounters, are still upbeat about the rest of the season. 

While Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske expressed confidence ahead of his team’s departure to Australasia, and Sharks coach John Plumtree wasn't overly worried after his team’s two losses ahead of their upcoming matches against the reigning Currie Cup (Lions, March 10) and Super Rugby champions (Reds, March 17), confidence doesn’t seem to be in short supply among the South African franchises.

While a positive approach is always a good thing, the Bulls exposed a vulnerable Cheetahs outfit during their demolition job last weekend. I have to confess, I tipped the Cheetahs to win what I thought was going to be a close match; I never expected them to capitulate in the way they did. Sure, the Bulls did score a couple of “soft tries” but the truth is they resulted from some pretty poor attacking ploys and lacklustre cover defence from the men in white. 

Johan Goosen, the new wonder boy of Cheetah and South African rugby, was easily counteracted with deadly accurate and disciplined defence by the Bulls. In the process they completely shut down channel one and two as attacking options for the Cheetahs. The result was a largely ineffective Cheetahs running game and frustration at the inability of their ball carriers to cross the gain line.

The second factor that killed the Cheetahs' challenge was the disciplined Bulls tight five and the aggressive defensive approach, particularly by Jacques Potgieter. He was abrasive on the run, but especially in defence where he seemed to target Heinrich Brussow - with great success. He managed to get under the Springbok flank's skin and for the very first time Brussow seemed distracted by off the ball stuff and the Bulls benefited hugely from this.

I believe Brussow was lucky not to get a yellow card when he “attacked” Wynand Olivier during the latter’s altercation with another Cheetahs player after a tackle. Brussow wasn’t involved in the initial contact and started the brawl when he joined the altercation. In my estimation he should have been penalised with a yellow card at least.

I have always loved the way the Cheetahs play, especially the way they manage to lift the tempo of the game when it matters the most. However, on Saturday they lost the plot at crucial times and made unforced errors when under the slightest bit of pressure. The Bulls employed a simple strategy in beating the Cheetahs: neutralise wonder boy Goosen and dismantle the Brussow magic. They showed that if you are able to do this you'll be well on your way to victory. The Australians (Brumbies and Rebels) and New Zealanders (Crusaders and Hurricanes) who will all face the Cheetahs on their Australasian tour will be studying the Bulls' match DVD with that in mind.
 
Adrian Strauss is an impressive player and leader, but on Saturday I got the sense that he was perhaps trying a little too hard. He displayed a “pressured urgency” which rapidly spread to his players. I think everyone in Bloemfontein will breathe a huge sigh of relief when Juan Smith returns to the team - this is definitely what the Cheetahs need now.

Last year the Cheetahs surprised everyone with the character they showed in their overseas fixtures. They will fancy their chances against the Brumbies and Rebels, their first two matches on tour. If they can emerge victorious in those two matches, they will be well on their way to recovery. 

However, these are difficult times with the team finishing last in the South African Conference facing potential relegation out of Super Rugby. They will also face former Springbok coach Jake White in their first tour fixture which will make it that much more difficult to outsmart the opposition as Jake knows the Cheetahs game all too well.

However, the men in white have been in similar positions before and they will know that if they can return to Bloemfontein with two away wins under their belt they will be well set for a very strong home run and with a much better chance of retaining their Super Rugby berth.

Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.

Disclaimer:
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    gary boshoff
NEXT ON SPORT24X

All change at wing for Boks

2014-11-24 08:27

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

How would you react if you had to share a lift with this guy?

 
 

Men24.com

This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!
SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
 
 
/Sport
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
Vote

Bafana Bafana have qualified but how far will they go at AFCON 2015?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.