Friday, July 07, 2006
CHEETAHS vs LIONS
According to the Saru website, Coach Erasmus is not willing to tackle the Pride of the South African Savanah- the Lion, Rugby Union’s Jozi-based Lions- without gloves.
Good on him then- the memory of the two domestiCCtiff 2005 defeats handed to the CC Champs 2005 must still be fresh in his analytical mind. He started the CC 2005 season with a squad largely taken from the Free State Vodacom Squad- with some experienced players from the last Super season of enforced unity to the Cats franchise.
These two defeats was largely the making of a superbly played game in Bloemfontein by the Lions- where their tight 5 had at the very least- parity and the DavidS acclaimed -backrow had confiscated the better part of the spoils. The Lions had put a lot of pressure on Willem De Waal’s defensive capabilities and with quality ball- the Eloff coached backline – had displayed their skills in masterful style.
In the away game the eventual scoreline was much closer- when coach Erasmus had started to protect Willem De Waal by rotating him with crunch tackler Barry Goodes- Channel One was not the M1 highway anymore for the Jozi Jollers to gain yards with. This tough match would also be the turning point in the Cheetahs season. Although again on the loosing side, the hard work and the players belief- in Coach Erasmus – Low Risk game plan- was starting to pay dividends.
Seeing that a ship does not sail on yesterday’s winds- and that a lot of rugby was played since then, I am still of the opinion that the two losses is still fresh enough in both the Coaching Staff and the players minds- that there will be no complacency in the Cheetah 22- when match day arrives.
Is there room for complacency—well the 2006 form might allow the Cheetahs to feel just a bit windgat.
Not only is Eloff now the Head Coach of the Lions and some of the sharpest Lion backline claws is either injured or away with the Springboks, the Lions had also lost almost its entire Tight Five. Its highly rated loose trio- of Ernst Joubert, Wikus van Heerden and Cobus Grobbelaar is however unchanged and it does have almost an entirely new and experimental backline- save the experience and flair of Wayne Julies and the experience of Human and Esterhuizen at the wings.
The Lions had lost both its opening games against the Sharks and Bulls- pipped by most pundits- both “realworld” and “couch –based” to be the form sides of CC 2006.
In direct contrast- the Cheetahs had opened the season against the Griquas and the Falcons with a huge bang, starting the games with the Coach’s low risk game- but switching in the second part of the first half to the more traditional Vrystaat game- which Coach Erasmus describes as Festival Rugby”. This enabled them to score a bucket full of tries, collecting 2 valuable bonus points, for and against points, and that corrosive enabler- -confidence.
In all fairness, the 2006 Cheetahs is nobodies Country Couzins anymore, and will have lost some of the “underdog” appeal that have made them the whole country’s – second team. They are after all the current custodians of that most hallowed piece of silverware, the Currie Cup.
The fact that the Cheetah team is a very settled one- with only two changes- one forced- Dale Heidtman for Meyer Bosman and Corniel Van Zyl for Rory Duncan-added to home ground advantage- must make the Cheetahs the favourites. This do create an untried Cheetah midfield- which might be exploited by the crafty Wayne Julies.
The choice of Dale Heidtman- who is stronger in defence than on attack- may indicate that Coach Erasmus wants to police Channel 1 again with Oranje 12- which will then in any case force the players to stick for longer passages to the Low Risk Plan- enforced by a competent pack and a rejuvenated and confident de Waal. Expect the fireworks to start when Floors, Valie, Kruger and Burger join from the bench.
As both coaches believes in fetching- expect the Loose forwards to be very competitive and influential in the eventual result. If the Lions were to cause an upset- it will start with a better than expected show of the young five- its loose trio to dominate and then the backline to spread it wide.
It is OORB’s opinion that Coach Erasmus will not err strategically in prescribing “Fest Rugby. It might be a tactical error- if the on field decision makers-move away too early or too frequently from the trusted Low Risk Rugby. Or- hopefully it could turn out to be another 50 pointer.
Cheetah Players to watch out for
Willem De Waal
Weather and snotsiek permitting , Oranje Orakel, MadameO and all the Orakels will be rooting for their team at Vodacom Park. It should be an entertaining game.
Let me be blunt in my prediction:
Cheetahs to win this game – with a healthy 15 point margin- after an initial see-saw game that will be an showcase of the youthful flair of the Lions- underwritten by a hardcore backrow against an ever-maturing Cheetah team that will demonstrate its ability to start with one style of rugby-Low risk Rugby- then to switch at will between that style and the traditional Vrystaat “running-the-ball-wide” game.
GROM SAAM -GO CHEETAHS-GO CURRIE CUP 2006
Heinke Vd Merwe an Janno Vermaak also to have good games
Will do so over the weekend
Last night and early this morning was just a bit - congested- :-))
As long as it do not backfire , I suppose it will be allowed.
It further seems that the youthfull exuberance of JW Jonker is proving to be an insperational choice by the Cheetah management- as alot of the refound running game is founding expression through his efforts.
It would also be fair te say that the ultimate sanction of the coach - in respect of adherence by the players to the tactics prescribed by the coach- is the simple issue of the teamsheet.
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