Discipline cost us - Naka
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Discipline cost the Toyota Cheetahs another famous victory over the Vodacom Bulls in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
According to the supersport.com website, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske reflected once again on his side’s inability to close off games – after leading 18-9 at the break and failing to take advantage to eventually lose 26-21 as the Bulls clawed their way back in the second half.
Drotske said his team’s mindset in countering the Bulls maul in the second half was a major difference in the game, as it gave the home team momentum and penalties which they managed to retake the lead and keep the Cheetahs pinned in their own half.
“Halftime we were doing reasonably well. In the second half the Bulls used their maul well and they forced a lot of penalties,” Drotske said.
“They put a lot of pressure on us, every time we conceded a penalty, they put it out in the corner and we were forced to defend for the next four/five minutes. We had one or two opportunities in the second half where we should have finished, and we did not. That is the difference in this game, and at this level.”
Drotske said his team “let it slip” after having control of the game, rather than the Bulls overwhelming them.
“It’s a difficult competition this. I think we’ve seen it this year and in previous competitions that it doesn’t matter whether you’re first or 15th on the log, on the day if you play well with good intensity, you can win the game. The Bulls will never be easy at Loftus, they are always 10-15% better team than when you play them away from home,” Drotske said referring to their historic first victory over the Bulls in Bloemfontein earlier in the competition.
“They will always be tough but today I thought our discipline let us down in the second half. There were too many penalties which put a lot of pressure on us. We let it slip in the second half, the one or two opportunities we had, like when Rayno Benjamin was over the tryline and lost the ball, those are the 50-50 calls you need to go your way if you want to win these games.”
Drotske’s team simply has pride to play for now and after a season of missed chances, the Cheetahs coach said all he could do was ask players to fight for the team and do their best.
“If I look back on the season now it’s been frustration, but for the first five or six weeks we let ourselves down, with the exception of the Bulls game in Bloemfontein,” he explained.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves but since we came back we were a lot better and were in every single game. We let it slip against the Chiefs where we were leading 34-10, but still got a draw and three points. Against the Sharks we played reasonably well. Down in Durban is tough and against the Crusaders we were in the game for the first 76 minutes.
“Next week we play the Force in Bloemfontein and they are the surprise side of the competition. It won’t be easy. You have to pick it all up and start again on Monday and who knows what is going to happen next week.”
“I think every players has his own pride and we have supporters and sponsors that look to us to do our best. One win can change a lot of things and it is important that a lot of players should fight for a place in the Springbok team. It is a professional sport and he has a contract to secure. It is a professional sport and players need to realise it is their work and play their best.”
The Cheetahs will face a Force side that includes former Free State players Sias Ebersohn and Wilhelm Steenkamp in their ranks when they face each other on Saturday.