'Either change personnel or the way we play'
PRO14 REACTION: South Africa’s two entries are simply not on par with the best that Europe has to offer.
This is the gist of the reaction from the coaches of the Cheetahs and Southern Kings – following another horror weekend on the road.
The two South African teams were dealt a healthy dosage of reality in Round 11.
Neither team was capable of coping with the opposition in away match in the heart of the Northern Hemisphere winter.
Champions Leinster extended their unbeaten run in all competitions this season to 17 by handing the Cheetahs a lesson in how to execute in wet weather when they won 36-12 at a drenched RDS Arena in Dublin on Saturday.
A day earlier the Southern Kings ran into a Munster team in red hot form and ended up losing 3-68 – prompting caretaker coach Robbi Kempson to suggest a change of playing personnel may be on the cards.
The two South African franchises conceded 15 tries between them.
The Cheetahs managed two consolation scores in a bizarre last quarter of their game against Leinster.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said that the last 25 minutes of the game, where the Cheetahs scored twice and Leinster did not respond, was encouraging.
However, he admitted that the first 50 minutes just weren’t good enough.
“We came back well in the last half an hour and performed really well in that period and controlled a certain aspect of our game [the scrums] and put a lot of pressure on them,” the Cheetahs coach said.
“However, the first half just wasn’t good enough in the conditions.
“We didn’t start well.
“In the first half we were playing with the wind but we couldn’t use it because we had very little ball to play with.
“Leinster played most of the game in our 22.
“We resisted the pressure initially, but in the last 20 minutes of the first half they scored 22 points and that killed us.
“We struggled to keep the ball in the wet weather. Ball possession was a massive problem and Leinster played really well in the conditions.
“They have gone 17 games unbeaten and are probably the best team in Europe at the moment and it showed.
“We have a lot of work to do before our next game against Ulster if we are going to come right in these conditions.”
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The Kings, with just one win in their 11 matches this season, have much bigger problems than a Cheetahs team that have won six games and are in third place in Conference A.
A top-three finish will secure a team a play-off spot and the Kings are way off the pace in last place in Conference B – 16 points behind Benetton in the second-from-last spot.
“We started building a few phases at one stage, but at crucial moments we’d cough the ball up and get turned over,” a frustrated Kempson lamented.
“Munster would punish us for those errors.
“Unfortunately it happens week in and week out.
“Maybe we either have to adapt our personnel or the way we want to play the game.
“We want to be more expansive, but at this juncture, we are not getting that right.”
What particularly frustrated Kempson was the recurring malaise of indiscipline that again cost his team – fullback Andell Loubser being binned as early as the eighth minute.
“It was very frustrating to see the discipline again being a problem and being a yellow card down within the first 10 minutes.
“It is small things we are not doing well.
“We are not managing the things we can control and when you cough up the ball to a very strong team like Munster it is fatal.
“But credit to Munster. They have one of the best attacking flyhalves in the game playing for them, and they were outstanding with their pace on the ball and were also very strong with ball in hand.
“It surprises me they haven’t gone further in Europe than they have because they are an excellent team.”
The Cheetahs’ next game is against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday, February 22.
The Kings head to Wales to face the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Sunday, February 23.