Robert Ebersohn

Building on belief

2013-04-23 11:11
Sport24 columnist Robert Ebersohn (File)

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2013-04-23 08:25

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While Saturday’s match against the Sharks was never going to be a classic owing to the poor weather conditions, I felt we did really well to gain the four log points, which are crucial at this stage of the season.

In the four years I’ve been part of the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby set-up, we have often lost the close encounters, so it was rewarding to be on the right end of the result on this occasion.

While Sharks coach John Plumtree suggested we played negative rugby by kicking the ball away, I believe that in those conditions you don’t want too much of the ball. It was a strategy we discussed both prior to the game and at half time.

I will choose ugly/winning rugby over attractive/losing rugby any day of the week.

We are now second in the South African Conference and as things stand are the local side with the most tries scored - 20. It’s crucial to keep that column healthy as this season’s log standings will be decided by the number of tries for and against rather than points difference.

As a team, I believe our success this season has been built on a number of key cornerstones.

For one, I feel that we have matured as a unit. After a heavy defeat to the Chiefs in Round 2, it proved to be our turning point in the season. We decided then and there that we would let our actions on the field speak the loudest.

Prior to the season, we got together as a playing group and emphasised the need to improve our defence. While John McFarland and Michael Horak put sound systems in place, once the principles started working in practice, we as players gained motivation and increased belief.

I wouldn’t suggest that the success is necessarily down to a change in mindset as we have always been a positive group of players.

In my view, it’s more a case of having to experience something before being able to truly believe. Prior to the 2013 season, we hardly ever beat the other South African sides, but now for example have already beaten the Stormers and Sharks.

However, we are just past the halfway stage in the season, so are guarding against getting ahead of ourselves. The South African Conference is highly competitive and close-fought, which I believe is healthy for South African rugby.

It was awesome to be involved in the first Springbok training camp of the year. It’s always been a big dream of mine to represent the Boks and I’ve been knocking at the door. I chatted to coach Heyneke at the camp and he told me he likes players who kick the door open.

I’m aware that there are aspects of my game I need to improve to play at Test level. Firstly, I need to concede fewer penalties and secondly, I need to cut out missed tackles.

Looking ahead to the weekend, we welcome the Kings to Bloemfontein. The men from PE are a well-structured side.

They may be at the foot of the South African Conference, but we are never going to underestimate them. From past experiences, we know how it feels to be looking up at teams on the log and are aware of the motivation they will carry.

Demetri Catrakilis is kicking well this season, so we cannot afford to concede needless penalties in our own half.

While we have great game breakers in our side - the likes Raymond Rhule and Willie le Roux - it’s crucial that we employ a well-rounded tactical approach.

We won’t be greedy and attempt to score tries if the opportunities don’t arise. We will rather aim to take the points on offer, kick for goal and look to build a lead.

Ebersohn, schooled at Grey College, made his Super Rugby debut in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_Ebersohn

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:    cheetahs  |  super 15  |  robert ebersohn  |  bloemfontein  |  rugby

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