Cheetahs issue Bulls warning
Bloemfontein – Even though the team’s backline players are scoring the tries these days, it’s the Cheetahs’ forwards that issued a warning to the Bulls with their performance against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.
The 41-21 victory over the Rebels was a record fourth successive one for the Cheetahs and maintained their outstanding effort in the run-in.
The Cheetahs’ pack gave the Rebels a torrid time in the scrums, smashed them elsewhere up front and beat them at the breakdowns.
It is precisely the kind of performance that Cheetahs supporters would have liked to see before the team travels to Pretoria to take on the defending champions on Saturday.
The Bulls’ forwards themselves played a powerful Sharks pack off the park in their 32-23 win in Durban.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said that his team demonstrated that they could stop driving mauls, scrum well, tackle superbly and compete in the lineouts. He believes his pack does not always get the credit it deserves.
“A guy like Ashley Johnson is playing well every week and building his reputation. Our forwards don’t always get credit as a unit. But it’s been like that for years and we are used to it by now,” said Drotské.
“The manner in which the front row and tight five as a whole stops driving moves, scrums, competes in the lineouts and defends, is really good. The success of the past four weeks could be put down to a team effort.”
Johnson, who was the man of the match, is looking like a Springbok again and giving national coach Peter de Villiers some food for thought after he was not included in a 51-man squad for a national planning session.
Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen and the rest of the pack made life difficult for the Rebels in spite of heavyweight props like Greg Somerville and Rodney Blake in the visitors’ ranks.
Oosthuizen excelled for the umpteenth time this season and his work-rate is higher than that of most flank forwards. Apart from his tackling and powerful runs, he stole a number of balls on the ground.
“There was turnover ball to both sides, but I would say we were better at the breakdowns than them,” said Drotské.
“Ashley, Coenie and Robert Ebersohn are doing good work in the absence of Heinrich Brüssow.
“But our performance wasn’t brilliant and if you could say that and still win by a bonus point and 20 points, then we are on the right track.”
Cheetahs 41 (20): Tries: Corné Uys (2), Rayno Benjamin, Adriaan Strauss (2). Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (4), Naas Olivier. Penalties: Ebersohn (2).
Rebels 21 (7): Tries: Ged Robinson, Mark Gerrard, penalty try. Conversions: Richard Kingi (3).