Posted on Monday, 24 Feb 2020
There were mixed emotions for both South African Guinness PRO14 sides after weekend games where both were in contention for most of the game, but ended up on the losing side because of errors that crept into their game.
The Toyota Cheetahs had a number of opportunities that they couldn’t convert in their 20-10 loss to Ulster in Belfast on Saturday night while the Isuzu Southern Kings were two points behind on the hour mark before slumping in the last 20 minutes to a 36-17 defeat at the hands of Welsh club Scarlets.
Both sides lamented the losses, but were happy that they could take positives out of the games, despite the results.
The Toyota Cheetahs dropped to fourth on the conference log as Glasgow Warriors overtook them while Ulster remained second behind leaders Leinster. The Toyota Cheetahs will face the Scarlets this weekend in their final tour match before returning home for a string of home games that will determine their playoff spots. The Kings return home to face Connacht in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Toyota Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie believes his side were their own worst enemies during the match in Belfast.
“I have mixed feelings about the game. There were times we played some brilliant rugby and then there were times that where we were our own worst enemies,” he said.
“In the first half we were in their 22m area for a long time, and we got three penalties there and then lost two lineouts in a row on their line. That ensured that we couldn’t turn that pressure into points.
“The first try that Ulster scored just before halftime was a soft moment. They played through 10 phases and got momentum from every one of those. We didn’t drive them back or come quickly off the line. In the end they scored rather easily and this was in contrast to the rest of the game where we defended well and drove them back in tackles.”
Fourie said there were positives from his side’s play, including the way they have adapted to the Northern Hemisphere conditions.
“On attack we made way too many mistakes at crucial times, especially in the lineouts and with some crucial handling errors. But in general I am satisfied with the way we varied our play at times and how we put pressure on them with our kicking game. Clayton Blommetjies had an outstanding game at fullback and took eight high balls under pressure. The backs attacked well and saw space and attacked in the right areas and with a bit of luck we could have won this game. It is a bitter pill to swallow to lose like that after we played well.
“I feel if we didn’t turn over so much ball on attack and that, coupled with our three or four crucial mistakes that we made in the attacking lineouts, then it could have been different. It is bad to let a game like this get away.
“Still I feel we are playing better in the weather conditions and we are busy slowly getting the right combination and balance of when to attack and when to kick. The players are becoming a lot more comfortable with the wet ball and aren’t scared to try things. So there are a lot of positives but I would have liked to have won the game.
“I know in my heart we did enough to do it, was it not for the mistakes on attack that we made and the turnovers we made that cost us.”
Kings coach Robbi Kempson was a frustrated man after his side were 19-17 behind on the hour mark but saw Scarlets surge ahead in the final 20 to claim the points on offer.
“There was some positives that we could take out of it. If we had stuck to our game plan the outcome would have been very different, but we didn’t. We allowed the Scarlets to get too much ball and play too much in that second half. With the coaches they have their counter-attack will always be excellent and we put ourselves in our own predicament and it cost us in the end,” he explained.
“We tried to bring on fresh legs at that time, and then the mistakes snowballed one after each other which unfortunately gave the Scarlets the opportunity to score tries. As soon as we make mistake after mistake we are letting ourselves down and compounding our own problems and giving the opposition the opportunity.
“We were in the game with 20 minutes to go and we threw it away because of silly errors. It is something we have to look at going forward in terms of the composition of our squad.”
Ulster 20 – tries: Tommy O’Toole, Robert Baloucoune. Conversions: Bill Johnson 2. Penalties: Johnson (2).
Toyota Cheetahs 10 - try: Clayton Blommetjies. Conversion: Ruan Pienaar. Penalty: Pienaar.
Scarlets 36 - Tries: Tevita Ratuva, Ed Kennedy, Ryan Conbeer, Uzair Cassiem, Dan Davis and Tom Rogers. Conversions: Dan Jones 3.
Isuzu Southern Kings 17 - Tries: Howard Mnisi and Christopher Hollis. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis 2. Penalty: Courtney Winnaar.