Weak defence floors Cheetahs

    2014-07-15 11:35

    Herman Mostert - Sport24

    Cape Town - Weak defending was at the heart of the Cheetahs' problems during this year's Super Rugby competition.

    After an impressive victory over the Sharks two weeks ago, the men from Bloemfontein ended their season on a low note when they were thrashed 60-25 by a rampant Lions outfit at Ellis Park this past weekend.

    The Cheetahs conceded no less than eight tries as the hosts broke tackles almost at will in the second half. The defeat saw the Cheetahs finish the season 14th on the overall log, and rock bottom in the South African Conference.

    This may seem strange, considering the fact that the Cheetahs produced a number of Springboks in Heyneke Meyer's squad for recent the June internationals.

    In the Boks' last game against Scotland on June 28, there were no fewer than seven Cheetahs players in the 23-man Bok team - a record for the Bloemfontein franchise.

    But it was their tackling - or a rather the lack of it - which cost Naka Drotské's men dearly this season.

    Statistics derived after the completion of the regular season show that the Cheetahs conceded the most tries (59) as well as the most points (527). Their tackle success rate (84.4%) is also the lowest of all 15 teams in the competition.

    It also came as no surprise when noted that three Cheetahs players feature in the top eight of the Tackles Missed category.

    Rayno Benjamin was the season's worst defender, slipping no fewer than 33 tackles. He is three ahead of the Brumbies' Nic White on the unwanted list.

    The other two Cheetahs players to feature in the category are Willie le Roux (27 missed tackles) in fifth spot and Sarel Pretorius (24) in eighth spot.

    There's no doubt the Cheetahs pose a massive attacking threat, but until a solution for a very important part of the modern game is found, don't expect a return to the playoffs any time soon for the men from Bloemfontein.

    The Cheetahs lost defence coach Michael Horak to the Kings earlier this year, with Drotské saying at the time they would not get a replacement and that the duties would be shared among his coaching staff.

    Perhaps a change of heart is needed in that regard...?

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