Cheetahs gave it a go

Sun, 21 Jul 2013 11:07
Large ryno benjamin scores630 Large riaan smit kick630 Large george smith tackled630

Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss praised his team following their heartbreaking 13-15 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss praised his team following their heartbreaking 13-15 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

The Bloemfontein side, in their first ever Super Rugby play-off, outscored the hosts by two tries to nil and had a last-gasp opportunity to send the game into extra time.

Ryno Benjamin scored in the dying minutes of the match but Riaan Smit’s crucial touchline conversion missed off the upright in the swirling wind and brought the Cheetahs’ fairytale season to an end.

Strauss said while it was a disappointing loss, the perennial also-rans took major strides in their 2013 campaign.

"Obviously we're really disappointed to lose tonight," said Strauss.  

"We had a much better season this year and that's something we can definitely build on for the future.”

Smit struggled off the time in the difficult goal-kicking conditions, slotting just one of four kicks at goal, while Christian Lealiifano kicked four of six with Nic White adding a penalty to set up a semifinal showdown with the Bulls.

Strauss turned down a number of kicks at goal at the death as the Cheetahs chased a try and his decision was vindicated when Benjamin dived over in the corner.

Strauss said he backed his team to “give it a go.”

“We struggled to get into their half, especially the second half,” said Strauss.

“We were just throwing the ball around a bit, losing a lot of ball and giving away a penalty. When we got there we thought let’s give it a go, I think it worked out well.”

Strauss said he had full faith in Smit landing the last-minute conversion despite his earlier misses.   

"I was very confident in Riaan [to kick the conversion]. I thought he had a great kick and I thought it was over but that was unfortunate for us tonight. But I'm still proud of the guys,” said Strauss.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské felt "too many mistakes, too many penalties" cost his team.

"If you're in the quarterfinals, it's quite important to keep away from bad discipline ... half-time it was seven-two, I think, the penalty count. That put us under a lot of pressure,” said Drotské.

"But also credit to the Brumbies. They attacked our breakdown quite well, and we could never get momentum and quick ball."

Drotské said the season was a "step in the right direction" but added that "it's quite important we build on that next year."

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26