Cheetahs 'building a winning culture'
Bloemfontein - In 2016 the Cheetahs smashed the Sunwolves 92-17 in a Super Rugby group match in Bloemfontein.
On Saturday, most critics expected them to have little trouble in securing a similarly one-sided result, even if they didn't score quite as many points as they did a year earlier.
Instead, the Sunwolves gave a spirited display in Bloemfontein that run the Cheetahs extremely close as the hosts secured a 38-31 win after leading 20-17 at half time.
It was a result that may appear shocking on the surface, especially given that the Sunwolves have looked poor up until now this season, but Cheetahs coach Franco Smith was not surprised at all.
"I'm very excited about the win. That's the main thing," Smith said.
"A lot of people thought that it was going to be a roll-over ... I knew it was going to be tough. They were very smart at picking a bunch of guys that hadn't played in the first two games and bringing energy to the group."
Smith said the Sunwolves slowed the game down very well, taking their time getting to set pieces.
"There was enough encouragement for them having lost here last year with a lot of points," Smith said.
"The important lesson for us this week is that after a big win or a high where you're really on top of it, in a Super Rugby game you can't linger on that.
"You have to start immediately again (at training) and I think some of the errors made tonight maybe symbolised that.
"But there are no excuses and we're really happy about the win. We'll look forward to the next one and use the positives and negatives."
The Cheetahs had beaten the Bulls the week before, meaning that they have now won two of their three matches this year.
Smith said he was still more upset about losing the Lions in week one than he was with Saturday's performance against the Sunwolves.
"We're disappointed that everything didn't go our way but we got the result and we're building a winning culture here," he said.
The Cheetahs are next in action when they take on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday.