Free State Cheetahs manager Helgard Müller declared himself happy that his team “upped their game” against the Lions last Friday, describing the Cheetahs’ 38-28 victory – which has once again brought about a change at the top of the Absa Currie Cup log – as “the cherry on top” for the defending champions.
Rugby 365 reports that the Cheetahs, who have not lost to the Lions in the Currie Cup since September 2006, moved back into first place on the log with their seventh victory of the season – a win that left Müller with a sizeable grin.
“We haven’t been in the best of form of late,” Müller told sarugby.co.za.
“We knew we had to up the ante against the Lions and that was a pleasing aspect for us.
“The win was obviously great, but it was simply the cherry on top for us. The quality of our performance was more pleasing – it’s never easy to win in Johannesburg, never mind to score four tries, but it was just what we needed after our two previous matches.”
The defending champions – who lost just one match en route to the Currie Cup title last season, scoring 73 tries in the process – have picked up just three four-try bonus points in nine matches this season.
Müller explained: “I think [the other] teams have improved their defensive patterns this season. But, at the same time, the field in Wellington didn’t help us play an expansive game against Boland.
“Against Griquas, however, we didn’t have an excuse, we were just shocking on the day and the team knew it too, hence the improved performance on Friday night.”
The Cheetahs certainly saved their best for last against the Lions, who were unbeaten this month going into Friday’s match.
The visitors were leading by just 26-23 going into the final 10 minutes of the game, before a 12-point blitz from the visitors – followed by a late Lions try – settled the match and restored the men from Bloemfontein to first place on the Currie Cup log.
* Griquas, the Falcons, the Lions and the Cheetahs all have a bye next weekend, with the four teams that did not play this week – the Boland Cavaliers, the Sharks, the Blue Bulls and Western Province – all in action after a week off.
129 – Earl Rose (Lions)
103 – Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls)
84 – Chris Rossouw (Free State Cheetahs)
75 – Willem de Waal (WP)
59 – Conrad Barnard (Griquas)
6 – Jacques Botes (Sharks)
5 – Earl Rose ( Lions), MJ Mentz (Griquas)
4 – Willie Wepener (Lions)
3 – John Daniels (Boland Cavaliers), Danwel Demas (Boland Cavaliers), Keegan Daniel (Sharks), Rouan Cloete (Falcons), Jan Kruger (Falcons), Dawid Pretorius (Falcons), John Mametsa (Blue Bulls), Tiger Mangweni (Blue Bulls), Wynand Olivier ( Blue Bulls), Wikus van Heerden ( Blue Bulls), Pedrie Wannenburg (Blue Bulls), Fabian Juries (FS Cheetahs), Hendro Scholtz (FS Cheetahs), Wylie Human (WP), Bjorn Basson (Griquas), Sarel Pretorius (Griquas), Doppies la Grange (Lions), Jaco Pretorius (Lions), Franco van der Merwe (Lions), Jano Vermaak (Lions)