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Rugby | Absa Currie Cup

Drotske frustrated despite victory



Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske felt frustrated his team left points on the field, despite dominating proceedings in their 30-29 victory over the Golden Lions on Saturday.

“It was a big frustration for me because in the first half we played really well except for our finishing,” Drotske said, after their first Currie Cup match of the season, played at Ellis Park.

“We had three or four opportunities where we couldn't finish and that put a lot of pressure on us – it was bad discipline.”

While the scoreline suggested a close encounter, the Cheetahs should have tied up the match much earlier.

The visitors were on the front foot from the start but they could not finish their threatening runs as handling errors robbed them of crucial scoring opportunities.

The hosts, brimming with youngsters, showed immense character keeping the Cheetahs at bay and coming close to claiming a victory at their home ground.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann commended his team for their resolve and felt the temperament displayed on the field would stand them in good stead for the rest of the tightly-contested competition.

“We didn't start well but there were more than enough opportunities to pull off a win in the end,” Ackermann said.

“I am proud of the way the guys performed in the end against, what I believe, is a quality side and must be one of the favourites to win the competition.

“We can build on this performance. If we can limit the mistakes there are a lot more positives than negatives.”

Drotske said his team could have easily lost the match given the fightback by the Lions in the latter stages of the match, but he put it down to his team's own mistakes.

“Every time we were in our own half, we conceded a penalty and they got the three points which kept them in range and put the pressure on us in the second half,” Drotske said.

“We could have lost easily in the last 10 minutes, but that was due to our own doing by the way we played.”

Drotske said what worked for his team in the first half, turned into a weakness in the second and put them on a back foot.

It was crucial for the team to learn from their mistakes as the strength-against-strength format had a way of punishing teams and showing up a lack of consistency, he said.

“In the last 15 minutes of the match, our set-pieces didn't function at all – we didn't win one lineout ball and we were under pressure – where in the first half that was the strength,” Drotske said.

“In this competition you have to play for 80 minutes. Last year, we lost three or four games like this and ended up in the promotion-relegation matches.”

The win was a positive start to the competition, he said, considering the Free State side finished in last place in 2012.

“It takes a lot of pressure off us. We've got a very tough start with Lions and Western Province away, so if you lose both games, the pressure is really on.

The Cheetahs next face Western Province in Cape Town, while the Lions will also be playing an away game against the Sharks in Durban.

In the other Currie Cup matches, Griquas will travel to Pretoria where they face the Blue Bulls on Friday.

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