Cheetahs make their tour count
Cheetahs make their tour countSHARE
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske was delighted with the way his team capitalised on their successful tour by securing a bonus-point win over the Rebels.
The Cheetahs notched three consecutive victories on their Australasian tour before making the long trip back home, but did not miss a beat in a five-try 34-16 win against the Rebels in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
apart from being a record fourth straight victory, the result also elevated the Cheetahs to sixth position on the Super Rugby standings, which left their caoch an incredibly satisfied man.
"We are definitely happy with the four victories in a row," Drotske said.
The Cheetahs mentor said that he had been worried about the threat the Rebels would pose his weary charges after their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Sharks last week.
"It was a good tour abroad, but I was worried we couldn't put it behind us.
"The Rebels gave away 60 points against the Sharks last week, and when that happens to a team they always come back with a bang.
"It was tough out there and we maybe could have scored one or two more tries, but I won't be greedy," he said.
Dominating possession, the home team pounced on every mistake made by the visitors, including wing Willie le Roux's try after a mishap in the Rebels' backline.
However, the wet conditions and the effects of a long tour made things difficult for the home side who stuck to their task well in the circumstances.
"The conditions weren't ideal for playing running rugby so we were a little bit out of our comfort zone," Drotske said.
"But in the end, all credit to the players who stuck to the game plan and came out on top.
"I feel that the bonus point for four or more tries is exactly that – a bonus.
"The guys had jet lag and we needed to start fresh after our success overseas, so I would have been happy with just the victory."
Flyhalf Riaan Smit tore a hamstring while kicking in the warm-up prior to the game and could be out of action for at least two weeks, depending on the grade of the tear, adding to the Cheetahs' woes after Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen's prolonged knee injury.
"There was a lot of blood around the torn muscle so we will only have clarity on Monday," Drotske said.
"Hopefully it is just a grade one tear, meaning that Riaan will be out for two to three weeks. We will just have to wait and see."
While he was pleased his team improved from their record defeat to the Sharks the previous week, Rebels coach Damien Hill was disappointed with their tour.
"Our confidence is at a low going into the game against the Force (in the next round) and we need to make the step up," Hill said.
"Our senior players need to take leadership and help guide our youngsters. We have got to find a way to win."