The ice has been broken

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MORGAN PIEK

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Toyota Cheetahs as they head to Cape Town to tackle the defending Currie Cup champions, Western Province, in the second round of the competition on Saturday.

The side’s campaign got off to a less-than-ideal start when they lost their opening match to the very impressive Blue Bulls with a 57-19 defeat in Bloemfontein last week.

The scoreline suggests that old habits die hard and even coach Franco Smith admitted that this was the case when the team started reverting to old tactics once they were under the pump. But this is a mark of a grossly inexperienced side and things can only go better.

The line out proved to be a major headache for the side against the efficient Blue Bulls, but it is to be expected with a new hooker and is nothing more than teething problems.

Smith told Courant that a team can simulate as much as you want during training, however, the intensity will never be the same as in a match.

"I always knew and that’s why I’ve always kept saying we must stay realistic about it. Once we come into real contact situations things change. You can simulate as much as you want on the training pitch, but it’s different against a side like the Bulls who are a real physical team.

"A lot of this had to happen on Saturday. Obviously we didn’t plan for it to go this way, but when there’s change there’s time to adapt.

Along with the line outs being an issue, the halfback pairing of Shaun Venter and flyhalf Niel Marais need to settle, which in its turn will ensure that the centres get better quality ball on the front foot."

Positives to take into the match against the John Dobson’s men in the Mother City was the scrum work done by the tight five, which had the side from Pretoria on the back foot for the first 60 odd minutes.

Boom Prinsloo was once again a beast and he proved why he was the leading South African try scorer in the Super Rugby with eight visits over the whitewash.

The result against Nollis Marais’s chargers indicates that defence was also an issue and it’s something that will have to be remedied against Province, with the holders having thrashed the Griquas 43-19 in Kimberley.

A loss is never ideal, however, Smith did tell Courant that the competition isn’t won during the first week and it will be the last seven weeks where the boys will be separated from the men.

The most important thing for the team is that the ice has been broken and pressure is off the young shoulders.

Saturday’s match at Newlands kicks off at 15:00, while our neighbours, Griquas, will tackle the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening. Kick off is at 19:10.