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Attack will improve Cheetahs' defence

Mon, 10 Mar 2014 21:05
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`Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské believes that if his team improves its attack, the defensive frailties will also be resolved.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské believes that if his team improves its attack, the defensive frailties will also be resolved.

Unlike last year, when the Cheetahs' defence was key to them reaching the Super Rugby play-offs for the first time, this season they have slipped tackles at an alarming rate.

In the first two Australasian tour matches - defeats to the Rebels and Reds - the Cheetahs' tackle success rate has dropped as low as 80 percent.

Against the Rebels (a 14-35 loss) the men from Bloemfontein missed 42 tackles and this past weekend against the Reds (a 33-43  defeat) it has 'improved' to 14 missed tackles.

However, Drotské is adamant it has nothing to do with their defensive system, but rather their inability to retain possession on attack.

"I don't agree with that statement [that our defence is poor]," Drotské told this website in an interview from the team's training base on the Australia Gold Coast - where they are preparing before flying to New Zealand on Thursday ahead of Saturday's encounter with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

"The problem is that we can't seem to take the ball through three or four phases on attack," the Cheetahs mentor said, adding: "That resulted in us ending up defending for 70 percent of the time in games.

"I, personally, feel we have to focus more on getting our attack right.

"Against the Rebels four of the five tries that were scored against us were from turnovers, after we had the ball on attack."

Statistics seem to support Drotské's argument - against the Rebels they conceded 24 turnovers and last week against the Reds 18.

"Last year was very different, when we managed to retain the ball through eight, nine or 10 phases - that is how we scored our tries.

"We are putting pressure on our defensive system with the way we attack.

"We simply can't retain possession through four or five phases."

The Cheetahs mentor said that through a combination of "hard work and a mental shift" they will rectify the problem.

"In the past we have always been a team that did not start well," he told this website, adding: "Last year we lost to the Sharks in Bloemfontein and then lost 3-45 to the Chiefs.

"We managed to turn that around [and reached the play-offs] - it is important to again do it this year."

The Cheetahs have n additional injury concerns and no players doubtful for the encounter with the Hurricanes.

Flyhalf Johan Goosen, who was replaced on the hour mark, is not carrying any after-effects of his recent injuries and the coach said he was 100 percent fine to play.

However, they have yet to hear how long Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will be sidelined for, after returning home last week with his third neck injury in as many years.

"We are still waiting for Coenie [Oosthuizen] to go see [specialist] Dan Hugo," the coach said, adding: "He hasn't been able to get an appointment, so we don't know what the situation is."

By Jan de Koning

Pumas vs Blue Bulls
sast: 18h00 | local: 20h00

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Western Province vs EP Kings
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Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 19h00 Newcastle
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Griquas v Sharks 20 | 45
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs 37 | 37
Fri, 02 October 2015
New Zealand v Georgia 43 | 10
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