Bloemfontein – Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske says a lack of execution in the second half and failure to stay in an attacking frame of mind were the reasons for their 43-43 draw against the Chiefs in their Super Rugby encounter in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cheetahs stormed to a 34-10 half-time lead, which included a bonus point for four tries.
The hosts, however, allowed the Chiefs back into the game after the interval, much like the Bulls did in Pretoria the week before.
“It's disappointing losing a match that you led 34-10 at one stage,” Drotske said after the game.
“But in saying that, the Chiefs are a quality side that also showed last week against the Bulls that they can come back from 15
or 20 points down if you let them.
“We had a brilliant first half, but in the second we gave away some soft tries and that brought them back into the game.”
After a helter-skelter first 40 minutes in which the hosts dominated most of the play, Drotske's charges fell into a slump in the second stanza that allowed the visitors to bounce back to clinch the draw in the dying seconds.
“The message at half-time was that we needed to stay in that same attacking frame of mind,” Drotske added.
“We had to continue with attacks to put the pressure on the Chiefs, but we couldn't succeed in doing so.
“We also spoke about using the driving mauls more because they seemed to work well in the first half and we got many penalties as a result. We knew they were going to target us at the break down, but we didn't have the same intensity there in the second half as we did in the first.”
While not making excuses for his side's poor display in the second half, the Cheetahs coach felt they were on the wrong side of referee Craig Joubert's decisions.
“We didn't have the same urgency as in the first half, but we also were on the receiving end of a few 50-50 calls.
“I thought the last penalty we got and we kicked out to form a line out was one of those.
“You can't have a driving maul for 15 metres and then it goes down and you aren't awarded a penalty.
“But a lot of credit needs to go to the Chiefs for playing the way they did in the second half. We need to learn that if you lead by 20 points you need to close those games.
Despite getting the draw, the Cheetahs can still take a lot of positives out of the game, Drotske concluded.
“The last three games we have consistently played better. Somewhere our bad luck will end with regards to 50-50 decisions.
“It is disappointing to be up by so many points and then play to a draw, but in the end it could have gone either way. And it is three log points for us where you only get four for a victory.
“I'm positive that we can win our games going from here.”
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said he was unhappy with the way his side performed in the first half.
“We were in trouble in the first half. So you can cloud things and say that it was a great comeback in the second, which it was, but the way we played in the first 40 minutes is unforgivable,” he said.
Against teams that are top of the ladder you aren't going to come back like that. We're pretty disappointed.
“We can talk about character, but we were bad in the first half. We got beaten to all loose balls and didn't defend with the sort of intensity that is required.” – Sapa