Cheetahs coach praises players for Griquas victory

Free State Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan has praised his team for their bonus-point victory over Griquas at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday.

Seeing his side’s win as a huge positive, Duncan said they didn’t expect to garner five points in the City of Diamonds, but he was very happy with the collective effort put in by his young side.

The victory sees the Cheetahs move to fifth spot on the Currie Cup log, with a tough outing against the Pumas in Bloemfontein on the cards for next weekend.

“We are very happy with the fact that we racked up five points against Griquas. They are a difficult side to beat in Kimberley, and the team did well to come away with a bonus-point win.

“Now we face a Pumas side who are on a high after beating the Sharks over the weekend, and we know that it’s going to be another tough encounter,” Duncan said.

One aspect of play that the Cheetahs will be looking at earnestly in the coming week is their one-on-one tackling. The visitors let some crucial tackles slip against the Peacock Blues, and Duncan feels that could be costly against a well-organised side like the Pumas.

“We will have a look at our discipline, but we will definitely be spending some time working on our one-on-one defence. That wasn’t up to scratch against Griquas and that is one thing you can ill-afford against a good attacking unit like the Pumas.

“Otherwise we are pretty happy with where we are. We showed good character when it was needed and we finished well in the end,” Duncan said.

As in round one against the Sharks in Kimberley, Griquas were left one man short for about 50 minutes because of a red card.

This time it wasn’t for a dangerous tackle as in centre Jonathan Francke’s case earlier, but rather for professional fouls. Griquas’ eighthman Carel Greeff was sent off when he got his second yellow card — an automatic red — and that left the hosts to scramble on defence.

“With the first yellow card I felt that Carel was a little bit unlucky. Sarel Pretorius quick-tapped the ball and anyone in close proximity would have tackled him. If you don’t, he usually scores,” Griquas’ coach Hawies Fourie said.

“Carel’s second yellow and the resulting red was his own fault. He should know better than not to roll away at the ruck.”

Griquas are now in seventh place on the log and face a difficult away game against the Sharks in Durban next weekend.

Fourie knew beforehand that a loss would put his side in a difficult spot and he conceded that their lacklustre performance against the Cheetahs did not do them any favours.

“We are now in a position where we need to finish in the top six if we want to be sure of our participation next year.

“We put ourselves in this tight fix and the focus now shifts from trying to reach the knockout stages to survival with regards to next season,” Fourie said.

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