Sport

Cheetahs Still On Winning Path

  • For us, it is important to work on the standards we have set for ourselves and consistency when we go on tour, says Ruan Pienaar

Toyota Cheetahs captain Ruan Pienaar has admitted he enjoyed his side’s massive 63-26 win over his old club Ulster in PRO14 Rugby action on Saturday, but warned his teammates that they would meet a different Ulster side in Belfast later in the competition looking for revenge.

Pienaar played 141 times for Ulster and carved an indelible mark on the club’s history in his time there, and while his team scored nine tries to record their second impressive victory and keep their unbeaten record, he cautioned that they would need to improve ahead of a showdown with unbeaten Munster on Friday night.

“If you score 60 points, it is hard not to be happy. But we are chasing high standards in this team and while the scoreboard shows we played well, there are definitely things we can work on. It is the second game and while it is going well, it is important to remember what we need to work on,” he noted.

“We have a tough game against Munster next week and then we have a tough tour. For us it is important to work on the standards we have set for ourself and consistency.

“To get that momentum with the team is for me personally great. I have a bunch of friends at Ulster and it was nice getting one over them but we will work hard for the turnaround to face Munster on Friday.”

Pienaar said he had enjoyed catching up with his former teammates, but said there would be no favours done when the teams meet in the return game in Belfast later this season.

“I was pretty relaxed and met up with some of their guys for a coffee. For me it is always fun to play against friends of yours and old teams; it was the same against the Sharks in the Currie Cup. I have great memories and had a great time at Ulster,” he added.

“I guess it was mixed emotions running out against them. I’m glad we got the win but they’ve already said it is round one and they will be waiting for us. It will be a different story in Belfast. But for now Munster is next up for us and we need to get a result.”

Pienaar said while Ulster struggled with the altitude, it shouldn’t take away from some of the impressive tries his side scored. Anthony Volminck’s hat-trick and a brace by Rhyno Smith electrified the contest as the Cheetahs were never troubled in the game.

“Altitude definitely played a part but in saying that we were pretty accurate at stages and we were tough to contain. We made some good decisions and ran some good lines. When we broke the line we managed to take those opportunities,” he recounted.

In Port Elizabeth, the Isuzu Southern Kings were disappointed with their result after leading the Irish side Munster early in the second half, before losing out late in the game 31-20. Kings’ coach Robbi Kempson rued missed opportunities for the second week in a row.

“Again it was missed opportunities – we had two try-scoring opportunities in that opening 20 minutes that we didn’t convert. I wouldn’t say we panicked but we didn’t convert. That is a minimum of coming away with 10 points and that would have helped with the scoreline in the game.

“If you aren’t taking your opportunities then you are going to be on the back foot. And in this competition and particularly against a team like Munster, you aren’t going to win games,” Kempson said.

But while he was disappointed he took positives out of the game.  “I think it is the first time in the history of the Southern Kings that we didn’t get a yellow card. We got a turnover scrum and stopped their mauls, so there is a lot of positives to take out of it. From our attack perspective, we train hard and it doesn’t seem to play itself out on the field, so in that respect we are disappointed, but we can’t fault the effort.

“The energy was a bit flat in the heat. Our intention was to lift intensity in the heat because they wouldn’t be able to cope with that, but we didn’t do that. Perhaps we were slightly off in that, particularly at the start,” he added.

The sides will swop opposition this week with the Cheetahs hosting Munster on Friday while Ulster will travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the Kings.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi