Cheetahs must cut down on costly cards
PRO14 SPOTLIGHT: The Cheetahs need to dramatically cut down on the number of penalties and resultant yellow cards if they are to progress to the play-offs.
Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan admitted his team can't continue collecting yellow cards at the rate they have in the last few games.
Since their return from their December break, the Cheetahs conceded 33 penalties and five yellow cards in two matches.
Against Benetton, it cost them the game.
The Cheetahs were leading 16-8, when hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld (repeated infringements, killing the ball at the breakdown) and Shaun Venter (cynical foul, deliberately slapping the ball down) went off for yellow cards in quick succession.
By the time the duo returned, the home team held a 20-16 lead and had regained the momentum - which for large parts of the game had been with the Cheetahs.
The visitors never regained any momentum and lost 21-27 - a late consolation try earning them a losing bonus point.
Against the Kings last week the Cheetahs conceded 19 penalties and three yellow cards - playing the last 10 minutes with 13 players.
They were fortunate the Kings were not as ruthless as Benetton in exploiting the numerical advantage and the Cheetahs eventually won 45-21.
However, this lack of discipline is not something new.
The previous three matches - before the December break - the Bloemfontein franchise conceded an average of 16 penalties per match and they have already collected nine yellow cards this season.
"We have to look at why we conceded those yellow cards," Duncan told rugby365.
"[There could be] a couple of technical issues, but one of the yellow cards [against the Kings last week] was unnecessary to me and a little bit silly.
"We conceded them from having a string of penalties and we have to look at cutting down our penalty count," he said about the return match against the Kings in Bloemfontein this coming Saturday.
Duncan said there are no real concerns, aside from the enormous penalty and card counts.
"We will approach this game as we do any other game."
The Cheetahs have a few "bumps and bruises" after their win over the Kings last week.
"It is to be expected after a tough game, but at this stage, we have not ruled out any players," Duncan said.
By Jan de Koning