Cheetahs prepare to pounce

Coach Naka Drotske believes his side’s first victory of the season will be the ‘start of something good’.

The Cheetahs managed to come back from a nine-point deficit at the break to beat the Bulls 24-15 on Friday – a win Drotske describes as a crucial turning point in their Currie Cup campaign. After their third loss against WP, Drotske was unhappy with the players’ mental strength, but now he believes this has changed.

‘We are very delighted and are definitely more confident,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘Any team that beats the Bulls without giving them a bonus point will be proud.

‘The half-time score [the Bulls were leading 12-3] wasn’t a true reflection of the game. We had 63% territory and failed to capitalise on our opportunities.

‘The only thing that separated the two teams was the fact that the Bulls kicked well in the first half and we didn’t.’

The men from Bloemfontein have been guilty of relaxing after establishing commanding leads, but the Cheetahs improved drastically after the break, scoring three tries to secure the victory.

‘I gave out some hard words during the team talk. With so much territory, I felt we should’ve added more to the scoreboard. However, the guys played much better in the second half and we managed to win under immense pressure.’

With the win, the Cheetahs remain in the bottom-half of the log – 10 points adrift from a semi-final spot. However, Drotske is sure the Cheetahs will be able to turn things around and head up the table.

‘Our next two games against the Leopards and Boland will be very important. We know we will have to work hard to get the eight points, but we need to get back our winning habit.

‘Things are definitely improving. We only conceded one try in the last three games against Province, the Sharks and the Bulls, so our defence is much stronger. The players just need to focus on their finishing and ability to score more points.

‘We’ve had a bad start to the season initially, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. We are going to give a 110% effort to make the semis.’

By Gareth Duncan