Cape Town - Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske summed up his team’s narrow 15-14 defeat against Western Province by saying the scrums had cost them the match.
“We (Cheetahs) had a 14-0 lead at one stage and from that point onwards you must go on to win the game,” said Drotske.
“As it turned out the scrums cost us the game. We have to learn the new (scrum) rules and we must learn to scrum (under the new rules).
“They (WP) were better at the set-pieces and held the upper hand at scrums and line-outs. There were times though when both team battled at line-out time.”
WP’s set-piece dominance ensured a glut of possession but they were not able to round off adequately.
At the outset, WP were punished as the Cheetahs scored twice against the run of play for a flattering 14-0 lead as the half neared the halfway mark of the first half.
“Our defence was good and while we were under pressure we did not become panicky,” said Drotske.
“When their first try came, it fell into their laps, after the ball bounced favourably for them from a line-out spill.
“Tactically we were good and we were in their face all the time. Our kicks for possession were not good whereas we dealt fairly well with their kicks upfield.”
Meanwhile, WP coach Allister Coetzee, said it was crucial his team had managed to focus on a fight back after the Cheetahs had scored two tries.
“It was important that we retained our focus after what happened against the run of play,” said Coetzee.
“In terms of how we were playing at the time it could have been a 14-point swing the other way. At 14-0 down I was a worried man but experience has taught me how to handle those situations.
"We made a few defensive errors and the ones we made were in the first line of defence and costly."
At half-time, the Cheetahs led 14-10, and the second half looked to end scoreless until the superior strength of the WP pack took its toll at a driving maul five minutes from the end.
WP skipper Deon Fourie felt towards the end of the match his side’s inability to add to their score was frustrating but his side remained committed to play to their strengths.
“Unlike last week (when WP lost to the Blue Bulls), we had to commit to do what we had to do in order to win the match,” said Fourie.
“That mindset kept us going and we adapted to the challenge.
“There was a lot of disappointment after the Bulls defeat and we wanted to win this match very badly.”