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LIONS VS CHEETAHS (BLOEMFONTEIN)

 

Neil Jardine

Captained Rhodesia 1962 – 1969 Rector of Michaelhouse. (1978-1986)

"Rugby is a thinking game – its’ not a running or a kicking game. This mania for running with the ball and playing open rugby at all costs is stupid – you must adapt yourself to the circumstances and play to your strength"

Now 50 years later Niel Jardine writes for Frosty Rugby Fans ...

 

LIONS VS CHEETAHS (BLOEMFONTEIN)

The Cheetahs were favourites to win. They had come sixth last season. They had more or less the same team so cohesion, opportunism and drive were expected. These did not materialise. What we got from the home team was a sloppy display, loads of elementary errors (four poor passes to the right in the first fifteen minutes!), awful finishing and an inability to rise to another level. They looked disorientated.

 

Willie le Roux played erratically dropping two routine passes, one of which would have led to a try; for the rest, he showed moments of brilliance under pressure and the try Cornal Hendricks scored was really his. Does anyone else get pissed off with the exaggerated celebration of players, in this case Hendricks, who claim the credit when all they have done is run four paces over the try line unmarked and place the ball down? The only players who deserved to be congratulated for that try were the forwards who won the ruck and Willie le Roux who gave a perfectly judged pass to the right wing.

 

Danie Craven once remarked: rugby is a team game. Fifteen men score each try. Don't slap the wing on the back if he scores, unless he has displayed exceptional pace and technique in 'making' the try ; if all he did was put the ball down, choose someone else, maybe the hooker or the centre who set the thing up in the first place.

 

The Lions were superb on defence against more talented players. They never gave up, were sparing in their concession of penalties and waited out their opportunities. I thought the captain, Warren Whiteley, was outstanding. The little scrumhalf, de Klerk, was full of energy and kept the ball moving wide and then back to his forwards. The Lions effort was consistent and persistent.

 

Here is a point of view about selection: ‘first pick your captain, there after pick your place kicker.’ Marnitz Boshoff displayed a considerable all-round talent, goaled all his kicks, with the final drop goal the nail in the Cheetahs' coffin. On the other side, the gifted Johan Goosen kicked badly, played without much sense of strategy and looks, again, prone to injury. (Why does he continue to run across the field towards the first centre as he passes? Who the hell is coaching him? Without even the suggestion of a swing pass, the opposition can simply race across to defend.)

 

This was a wonderful result for the Young Lions, a well-deserved and unexpected 21-20 victory. Boshoff scored all the points but the victory was a sustained team effort and a credit to determination and patience under pressure.

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