Duncan: Boland scare a blessing

The Cheetahs’ shaky effort in Boland will serve as a timely wake-up call, says captain Rory Duncan.

Free State started well but allowed the Bolanders back into the game in the crucial periods before and after half-time. The hosts racked up 14 points and then took the lead thanks to the boot of Isma-eel Dollie. If not for a fantastic penalty goal by Willem de Waal, the Currie Cup favourites would have conceded their first defeat to a side that has only recently qualified for the Premier Division.

Many sides will state the positive in this kind of situation is that it prevents complacency in the subsequent games. Duncan admitted to Keo.co.za he was disappointed with the performance, but delighted with the result.

“The best kind of wake up call you can receive is when you don’t perform to your potential but still manage to win. The Lions game was a bit like that and the same thing happened in Boland.

“We knew they were going to be tough on their own ground, but I don’t think any player in our side is happy with the display on Saturday.”

The Cheetahs have no Currie Cup games this week, but will face the Pumas in a friendly in Witbank. Many of the regulars have been given a few days rest and Naka Drotske is likely to try a few new combinations against the Pumas and in next Friday’s clash against the Valke.

But after the Boland incident, Duncan confirmed the joint champs will be looking for a more polished showing.

“There is a lot to work on in the next two weeks and I don’t think there will be any complacency,” he said. “Everyone realises we still have a long way to go, not only going to get to a Currie Cup final, but to win it as well.”

Boland produced a spirited effort despite the turmoil experienced due to the Fidentia scandal. Duncan lauded the patent improvement of the Cape side who lost 91-3 in Week One against the Cheetahs.

“Their skills have improved and they are playing with a lot of heart. At 19-3 down, we should have buried them, but they did well to fight back.

“They played a very clever kicking game and made few mistakes. A lot of the tries scored in the 91-3 win were from turnover ball when they made errors, and so they’ve done well to cut those out.”

By Jon Cardinelli