There were long passages of play in this game where possession changed hands several times, the width of the field was used well and play went from end to end but without the scramble defence ever giving up. A hard fought contest where you could see that both teams wanted this but the game never descended into a boring arm wrestle, rather the endeavour and adventure was maintained right up untill the last scrum of the game in the 80th minute.
If I was a Cheetahs fan I would be looking to the future with great optimism. Franco Smith the Cheetahs coach has made several public statements saying how much he likes the Lions approach. Franco has done with the Cheetahs in the 2016 Currie Cup what Johan Ackermann did in the 2015 Currie Cup, gone unbeaten. He had continuity of selection from Superugby to Currie Cup and kept the developement of the gameplan moving forward.
The Cheetahs must put in place now, if they haven’t already done so, ways of keeping their players at the Cheetahs. They need to tie them into contracts and look at ways of looking after these players so that along with the team camraderie and success on the field these players won’t be easily lured away from Bloemfontein.
Hopefully the Cheetahs can now carry on with this form and direction and take the momentum they have gained through the Currie Cup into Superugby which is really only three months away. I think they will be seriously disrupted by Franco’s inclusion in the Springbok coaching team which is headed for Europe in November.
The Bulls despite the loss in the final look like they are on the right track. There seems to be a number of players beginning to shine in the Bulls setup but in my mind it is the setup that is impressing me. Superugby is a difficult place just to look half decent never mind trying to institute change. Truthfully the Bulls didn’t look good or seem to be headed in the right direction during Superugby but in the easier competition, the Currie Cup, we can now see that Nollis Marais’s hard work is starting to bear fruit.
For once I watched two teams trying their best to win the Currie Cup final rather than one trying to win with another trying to stop them from winning or two teams trying not to lose. Hopefully the momentum gained by these two teams can be carried on into Superugby and ultimately benefit SA Rugby.