Free State coach Human defiant in the face of defeat
Free State Cheetahs coach Daan Human remained defiant in the face of defeat after his callow squad suffered a second consecutive heavy Currie Cup defeat at the weekend.
The Cheetahs were thrashed 57-14 by Western Province at Newlands‚ which followed the previous weekend’s 45-15 loss to the Sharks in Durban.
They still occupy second on the Currie Cup standings with 25 points after eight games thanks to winning five of their fist six matches when they were at full strength.
But after two heavy losses with a team containing many Varsity Cup level players‚ there is a danger that Free State’s campaign could implode.
They have a bye next weekend before facing a strong Pumas at home. That is shaping up as a pivotal game in the campaign.
Free State are competing in the Currie Cup with a virtual third team as most of their resources are focused on their debut season in PRO 14 (which started with two heavy losses as well).
It’s naturally led to a situation where many talented but out-of-depth players have been forced into action.
On Saturday WP scored six first half tries and led 36-0 at the break. The hosts chose to slow the game down in the second half instead of letting it descend into an unstructured free-for-all.
“I can’t blame a single member of the management or players for their effort‚” Human said.
“I’m so positive about them and they have a fighting spirit and they fought until the end.
“It wasn’t easy‚ but there are some answers for the future. I see a win on the horizon very soon.
“I think our first phases went well but like last week‚ these players aren’t used to the pace and playing at a stadium like Newlands.
“So some fatigue set in.
“So many of these players have now had the opportunity to play Currie Cup rugby and some of them will start for the PRO 14 team against Zebre next week.
“Some took their chance‚ but I’m not willing to name names.
“This is about being strong in the head and I won’t be distracted by little things because we have a bigger picture at Free State.
“The only thing I ask of the players is to do their best‚ and if they do that‚ I will be happy.”
WP coach John Dobson was satisfied with the performance in a game where the home team were expected to win comfortably.
“I was happy with the performance‚” Dobson said.
“We saw intensity in contact‚ getting through more phases and our game management was much better because other than the last few minutes (when the Cheetahs scored two late tries) the game could have got really loose.
“The fact that we kept them scoreless deep into the game was pleasing.
“The danger of a game like that is at 36-0 at halftime‚ it could lose shape completely.
“I know it wasn’t what the crowd necessarily wanted to see but we wanted to shut it out.”
Flyhalf Damian Willemse was substituted late in the first half but Dobson confirmed it was nothing more than a precaution.