The Cats’ Vodacom Super 14 season went from bad to worse when they lost 23-16 to the Reds in an error-ridden match at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Frans Ludeke has asked to be judged on his team’s home results this year. Having now lost two from three at Ellis Park, the axe is surely set to fall on yet another SA coach.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 10th minute when inside centre Julian Huxley gathered the high ball and spun it wide. Right wing Peter Hynes skipped past a flat-footed Wylie Human to score under the posts.
Huxley added another penalty before a great tackle from Grant Esterhuizen saw the ball spill forward and Wayne Julies hacked ahead for Conrad Jantjes to chase. Jantjes was well ahead only to be tackled without the ball by Hynes, with the line at his mercy. Referee Lyndon Bray had no choice but to award a penalty try and send Hynes to the sin bin.
However, the Cats failed to take advantage of the situation, scoring just three points against 14 men.
Reds flanker David Croft crashed over in the 52nd minute for his side’s second try, and while the Cats had plenty of possession in the final quarter their finishing let them down.
Andre Pretorius also missed a simple penalty attempt with eight minutes to go that would have reduced the gap to just four points.
Try: Penalty try
Con: Andre Pretorius 1
Pen: Pretorius 3
Try: Peter Hynes, David Croft
Con: Julian Huxley 2
Pen: Huxley 3
ALL THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER:
69 mins: From the lineout, the Cats turn the ball over and the Reds are able to regroup. Jannes Labuschagne walks off holding his right arm. Lawrence Sephaka is on. Scrum to Reds.
67 mins: The Cats are looking defeated already. Despite gaining a penalty which is drilled into the Reds 22 for a lineout they trudge across with no urgenct whatsoever. They still need two scores to win this one.
65 mins: Suddenly the Cats awake from their slumber and surge into Reds territory, the ball passing slickly through numerous hands, but within metres of the line, they cough it up again and the Reds clear into the Cats half. Apart from the odd set phase domination, the Cats have looked nothing more than sloppy.
62 mins: It’s hard to imagine that these two teams are worthy of playing in a competition that features the likes of the Crusaders and Waratahs. the Cats are scratching around and devoid of ideas. Every promising attacking move breaks down at the crucial moment. Reds counter-attack. Penalty just outside 22. Huxley keeps his perfect record. (Huxley 5/5)
52 mins: Despite ringing the changes – Lukas van Biljon, Jannes Labuschagne, Ernst Joubert and Ricky Januarie – the Cats concede their second try, when flanker David Croft crashes over. Huxley makes no mistake. (Huxley 4/4)
47 mins: Cats are running out of ideas. Seem to have forgotten about the guys with numbers 11 and 14 on their shirts. Pretorius kicks an up and under. Fourie takes well, but loses it. Reds attack from loose ball and after fumbling up field eventually there is a lineout 5m from Cats line to the Cats.
44 mins: The run clearly tired Stolts out and he is slow getting back from the next move. Penalty Reds. Cats steal it. Van Heerden streaks down field, but his pass to Jan Vermaak is dropped and the Reds counter. Lineout halfway to Cats.
42 mins: Lock Willem Stoltz breaks away from the first lineout of the half and sets up a good attacking move that sweeps across the field, but not really forward. Eventually a kick from the Cats goes out in Reds 22. Jaque Fourie can’t find space so rounds round the whole team, but is brought down. At the ruck the Cats are pinged for holding on. Lineout to Reds 10m line own half.
38 mins: It’s all a bit scrappy from both teams. The wings on either side are catching a chill as the forward exchanges dominate. Another Reds error at a ruck seven metres inside the Cats half is seen by Bray. Pretorius makes it look oh so easy as he strokes it through the poles with plenty space to spare. (Pretorius 4/5)
33 mins: The Reds midfield are making life difficult for the Cats and are forcing them into some desperate defence. However, it’s not always the right side of the law and Marius Hurter is penalised for hands in the ruck right in front. Huxley makes no mistake to tie the scores up again. (Huxley 3/3)
30 mins: Another lineout almost exactly in the same place to the Reds, but they try and keep it close and are well snuffed out by the Cats forwards. Mark Connors is caught for holding on. Pretorius lines up the same kick as moments before, but pulls it left. (Pretorius 3/4)
28 mins: From restart the ball goes through a few phases, before a lineout to the Cats on the 10m line in the Reds half. Wickus van Heerden takes the ball up and is well supported. The Reds interfere in the ruck and are penalised. Pretorius makes it look easy to regain the lead. (Pretorius 3/3)
24 mins: Scrum to Reds on Cats 10m line. they break up the middle, but the Cats defenders get there only to be pinged for illegal play at the ruck. Huxley lines up the kick to loud booing, but he doesn’t miss. Scores level. (Huxley 2/2)
19 mins: . Pretorius converts. (Pretorius 2/2)
16 mins: Penalty to Cats 35m out. pretorius makes no mistake for the first points to the home side. (Pretorius 1/1)
13 mins: Attempted drop by Pretorius goes under the bar. Cats scrum. They drive it up, only metres out. Reds are resolute in defence. More forwards pile in, but they lose the ball and the Reds clear up out of the 22.
10 mins: More kicking, this time from Mitchell and Pretorius, but its mostly aimless until Julian Huxley gathers the high ball and spins it wide. Right wing Peter Hynes skips past a flat-footed Wylie Human for the first try of the match under the poles. Huxley kicks the conversion from in front. (Huxley 1/1)
7 mins: Its tight stuff, with both teams not prepared to give much away early. Cats look nervous, but the pack wheels the scrum on halfway, only to see the Reds return the compliment at the next set piece. this time Reds secure the ball and spin it wide, Jaque Fourie is on hand to bundle Caleb Brown into touch 30m from his own line.
4 mins: Fullbacks Conrad Jantjes and Drew Mitchell exchange long kicks, with Mitchell sending the ball deep into Cats territory with a wicked bounce. Cats win lineout, but Pretorius is unable to gain much ground. Reds attack and have lineout on halfway.
2 mins: The Cats kick-off in front of a sparsely packed stadium and immediately go on the charge. The Reds though are awarded a penalty for the Cats holding on. Cats get the ball back, but knock on. Scrum to Reds 15m inside own half