Ollie: Forwards, take a bow

Although the Free State backline excelled against the Cape Town side, captain Ollie le Roux believes that the game was won in the tight five.

The Vodacom Cheetahs ended up winning comfortably on Friday night and so have moved to the top of the Absa Currie Cup log with three matches remaining in the league. The 28-13 win was a huge victory for the Free Staters, and releases the pressure of picking up points against other big teams like the Sharks and Vodacom Blue Bulls in subsequent games.

“When you’re on the top, you’re smiling,” an elated Le Roux told keo.co.za. “We knew how important this game was in terms of a home semi-final. But we still have some work to do to make sure we stay on top.”

Le Roux commented on his side’s marked improvement from the 39-28 loss to the Lions on 2 September. The Cheetahs pack dominated the Province forwards, and this pressure was transferred to the WP backline, who were always on the back foot.

“It makes it so much easier when you’re tight five is playing well,” he said. “It was a case of having the right combinations and using them to good effect. This in turn led to our loose trio outplaying their’s, as when a tight five is dominating to that extent, it really does give your flankers free reign.

“I think that the impact players were also utilised particularly well. When Kabamba [Floors] came on in the second half, he revitalised our forwards and won us a lot of ball on the ground.”

The personal battle between Le Roux and young WP tighthead Brock Harris also lived up to the pre-match hype. Although the Free State pack were stronger overall, the former Leopards prop stood up admirably against the Springbok veteran. Speaking of their battle, Le Roux has nothing but respect for Harris.

“Brock is a really good scrummager, and continues to improve and impress. I enjoyed scrumming against him on Friday and look forward to our next meeting.”

New signing, Hendrik Meyer was named Man-of-the-Match for his linebreaking runs and big defence in the midfield. He too has grown stronger with every fixture, and seems to possess the sometimes incongruous abilities of skill, speed and exceptional size.

“Hendrik had another fantastic game, but I think that his best rugby is yet to come. Willem de Waal also played very well and brought a lot of composure into the team. His tactical kicking was very accurate and he placed the opposition under loads of pressure.

“We implemented the right game plan against Province, and didn’t try to run at them from the get-go. We played with a lot more structure, and our execution was far better than it was against the Lions.”

by Jon Cardinelli