Currie Cup

Marais: It was an intense game

2015-09-05 15:05
Nollis Marais (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Grinding out a victory was equally important as a commanding one for Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais as his side had to fend off a strong challenge by the Free State Cheetahs for a 24-17 victory in their Currie Cup match in Pretoria on Friday.

The visitors proved their earlier season 57-19 defeat to the Bulls in Bloemfontein was not an accurate reflection of their true worth.

Had the Cheetahs taken all their chances, the score could easily have favoured them, but instead the Bulls kept alive their unbeaten run in the Currie Cup.

Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais was a relieved man after his side was made to work hard for their victory as they missed out on the full complement of points for the first time this season.

“It was an intense game but at the end of the day I am happy with the win and I will take the four points any day,” Marais said.

“Our execution wasn’t good in the first half, we brought them into the game, and we kicked badly.”

Marais said playing in wet conditions where they could not play as expansive as they have since the start of the competition would hold them in good stead as they go into the second half of the competition.

“Every game we’ve played so far was in nice weather conditions where we could run with the ball but they needed this going into the summer time with the rains coming.”

While the conditions did not allow the side to play with width, both sides were sound defensively making for a good arm wrestle.

“It was excellent defence today, they had more ball because of mistakes we made and defence ultimately won us the game,” Marais said.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith in turn was also satisfied with his charges’ performance where they had the upper hand in the first quarter before the match swung in the hosts’ favour.

They launched a promising fight back in the last 20 minutes of the match with the seven-point advantage flattering the Bulls slightly.

“It was close and it would have nice to have won it, but I told the players we didn’t lose tonight, we just didn’t win it but all credit to the Bulls, they are a quality side,” Smith said.

“The guys were exceptional and it was important for us to come back from that 57-pointer. The heart the guys showed out there made me proud.”

Smith said he was encouraged by the improvements his side have made since the first round, but was looking for further growth as they vie for a playoff spot.

“We must be clinical especially approaching the business end of the competition,” he said.

“We didn’t convert a lot of possession we had in the first half into points and if we scored the points we had on offer it might have been different but we know there is still a lot of hard work ahead.

“Our defence is sound, I think we gave away one soft try and we’ve conceded only four tries in the last two games against top sides which means we are moving in the right direction.”

Read more on:    blue bulls  |  currie cup  |  nollis marais  |  pretoria  |  rugby


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