It isn't a new Cheetahs problem
SPOTLIGHT: Coach Hawies Fourie’s concern remains that his team’s most pressing problem has not been rectified.
He also identified other frailties that have cost the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup.
His team is now in a challenging battle to progress to the play-offs of South Africa’s premier domestic competition after their loss against the Lions on Saturday.
The Cheetahs’ loss against the Lions could, in Fourie’s view, be put down especially to poor discipline and also the penchant to let matches slip just before and after half-time.
“Discipline has been a concern since Pro14 rugby last year and when we started after lockdown one of the things we focused on was discipline. We were the most penalised team in PRO14 rugby and we tried to address it,” Fourie said after the Lions match.
“But yes, we still give away some soft penalties at vital moments of the game where you concede [possible] points and a lot of territory and give the other team an attacking opportunity in your 22.
“The Lions capitalised from that and it was a big reason why we lost.”
Asked how he thought they could fix the problem, he admitted that it was indeed a challenge.
“We speak about it every week. We try in training to limit things like offside. We try to address it but we as a coaching team will have to sit and discuss it again and make a better plan.
“At the moment we are just ill-disciplined and we concede too many penalties – some of them are under pressure and that’s sort of the way the game goes, every team concedes some penalties, but I think at half time we had conceded nine and the Lions only three – and those by us were sort of consecutively.
“We conceded three penalties in the first 25 minutes and from there on up till half time there were six penalties against us. That brought the Lions back in the game. They slotted two penalties and scored from the maul so that brought them back in the game.
“We need to limit that and we’ll have to discuss it again as a coaching team and go forward with a plan to improve that.”
Fourie also felt that the handling following breakdowns wasn’t good enough and pointed out that they could barely put three phases together because of these lapses.
The defending Currie Cup champions are now in fifth place after the loss to the Lions, and Fourie has no illusions about how difficult it will be to progress to the play-offs.
“We are a side that is proud of our Currie Cup record. We’re the defending champions and we want to win it again, but we are now in a very difficult position. We have four matches left, two at home and to away, and I believe we need to win all four to come into fourth position.”
The Cheetahs are eight points adrift of the Lions but have a match in hand. Of the Cheetahs’ four remaining matches, two – against the Pumas and Griquas – are away while they still have to play the Sharks and Western Province at home.