Cheetahs ready to be No.1
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské gelt his side is in a good position to challenge for top honours in the South African Super Rugby conference.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské felt his side is in a good position to challenge for top honours in the South African Super Rugby conference.
Speaking after winning a dour arm-wrestle with the Sharks in dire conditions in Durban at the weekend, Drotské said his team could be SA's shining light for the first time.
A late Willie le Roux try, and a first half score by Raymond Rhule led the Free Staters to a 12-6 win at a wet and cold Kings Park, where two Patrick Lambie penalties either side of the interval had kept the hosts in the game.
The result temporarily moved the visitors to the top of the domestic conference and third overall, but they had slipped to sixth on the combined standings by the end of the weekend, after the Bulls' 34-0 triumph over the Kings in Port Elizabeth.
"I thought if we wanted to compete in the conference and end first, then winning here will be crucial," Drotské said after the win, only the third ever for the Cheetahs on the east coast.
"It was said before the last two weeks we needed to win one of the two, either against the Bulls in Pretoria or here in Durban and it happened.
"So it's a good position to be in, but there's still a long way to go."
The men from Bloemfontein, who have now won six of their last seven matches, have never qualified for the Super Rugby play-offs, with their best position coming in 1997 when they finished seventh in a 12-team format.
"We knew before the season it's going to be tough, starting with the Sharks in Bloem and then the Chiefs, two teams that played in the final last year," he said.
"We were under a lot of pressure, especially after we lost that second game 3-45 [in Hamilton], but the players pulled it back and we won three on tour.
"I guess when you start winning it becomes a habit."