Player ratings: Too little, too late
OPINION: The scoreline suggests it was a close call and three late tries by the Golden Lions did make it close on the scoreboard.
But in reality, 31-28 scoreline flatters the Lions.
For an hour the Free State Cheetahs outplayed the Lions and are deserved Currie Cup champions.
The Lions were as naive as their coach Ivan van Rooyen’s benign pre- and post-match speeches. They mostly offered little of substance!
Jan de Koning rates the Golden Lions players!
15 Tyrone Green:
Hop, skip, step and a jump to nowhere. Young and full of talent, but much to learn.
14 Madosh Tambwe:
Pace in open space is not everything. You have to have the ability to catch the ball and show some heart.
13 Wandisile Simelane:
His lack of experience and naivety on defence was exposed and resulted directly in the Cheetahs’ second try.
12 Duncan Matthews:
Showed some real promise and may yet be the answer to the Lions’ biggest poser – a creative inside centre.
11 Stean Pienaar:
He is always dangerous with ball in hand, but he was exposed on defence by a retreaded centre playing on the wing. Defence is a massive work-on for the Lions ahead of Super Rugby 2020.
10 Shaun Reynolds:
His poor out of hand kicking and obsession with physicality when he carried the ball really cost his team. He appears to be a limited flyhalf with limited vision.
9 Ross Cronje (captain):
His ponderous play – slow, loopy passes and even tardier kicking often cost his team dearly and resulted in at least one try when an attempted clearance kick was charged down. As a captain, he is an abject failure.
8 Hacjivah Dayimani:
He disappeared when the game required a physical presence. He has pace and skill, but in a Currie Cup Final you also need grunt – which was sadly missing.
7 Cyle Brink:
He tried hard and at times looked impressive with ball in hand. His defence also proved invaluable.
6 Marnus Schoeman:
Fights way above his weight class and on occasion may have been hard done by the referee’s calls. If only some of his other teammates had his heart.
5 Marvin Orie:
The only time you noticed him was when he sat down for some nondescript injury. The rest of the time he was anonymous. Based on this performance it is not a surprise he was cut from the Springboks’ World Cup squad.
4 Ruben Schoeman:
Worked hard and had some good, solid carries. However, like the rest of his team, was very one-dimensional.
3 Jacobie Adriaanse:
Sad finish to an interesting career by the veteran. He was never going to be effective in open play in such a fast-paced game.
2 Pieter Jansen:
He got showed up by energetic Joseph Dweba and will need to work on his skills if he hopes to make an impact in Super Rugby next year. Just okay, on a day when the game screamed for a massive impact.
1 Dylan Smith:
His scrumming was impressive, but his lack of game time this year appeared to catch up with him. Replaced early in the second half.
16 Jan-Henning Campher (on for Jansen, 51st minute):
He showed a lot of energy and grunt in that final quarter – something that was missing in the first 50 minutes.
17 Nathan McBeth (on for Smith, 43rd minute):
Was solid in the scrums and one for the future. Needs to improve his workrate.
18 Johannes Jonker (on for Adriaanse, 51st minute):
Good scrumming and energy around the park. Should be the Lions’ starting tighthead in Super Rugby next year.
19 Wilhelm van der Sluys:
20 Len Massyn (on for Brink, 63rd minute):
Had his moments in a hectic final quarter, when the game opened up. Could do with some additional game time.
21 Dillon Smit (on for Cronje, 63rd minute):
His service was a touch more accurate, but just as ponderous as that of Ross Cronje. On occasion, in the final quarter, slowed the game down when he needed to speed it up.
22 Jan-Louis la Grange (on for Matthews, 57th minute):
Perhaps the physical presence the Lions require in the midfield, but in this game he was not a better option than Matthews.
23 James Venter (on for Marnus Schoeman, 53rd minute):
Made a massive impact after coming on, scoring a try that put the Lions back in touch and added a second right on time. He could be a star in given enough game time in 2020.