Pro14 commitments leave depleted Cheetahs floundering in Currie Cup

10 September 2017 - 00:00 By CRAIG RAY

The integrity of the Currie Cup will be tested in the coming weeks if the Free State Cheetahs don't find a way to drastically improve after they suffered a humiliating defeat by Western Province yesterday.
With precedence given to the Cheetahs' Pro14 commitments, which is utilising 28 players while another half-a-dozen are injured or with the Springboks, Free State are down to using part-time professionals.
It's no fault of the players or coach Daan Human that they are in this predicament but this version of the Cheetahs is out of its depth at Currie Cup level.The speed, intensity and skill of Western Province was on another level and though many Cheetahs players such as promising flank Daniel Maartens will no doubt improve over time, they have been thrown in the deep end due to rugby politics.
They are floundering.
WP scored nine tries - six in the first half. It resembled a contact training session.
Province's scrum and lineout also purred along nicely and they defended effectively.
Despite long periods of possession the Cheetahs had no clue how to break down the organised WP defence and were punished at just about every, inevitable turnover.
Amazingly after their second heavy defeat Free State are still second on the standings on 25 points after winning five of their first six matches when they were at full strength prior to Pro14. Province's victory lifted them to third on 23 points.
WP's biggest concern was losing flyhalf Damian Willemse with a leg injury late in the first half, but in Rob du Preez they had a useful replacement.
Fullback Marco Mason dropped a routine pass on the halfway line, which WP flank Jaco Coetzee took and ran 45m to score.Debutant WP fullback Craig Barry finished off a long-range move that started from a Werner Kok break that had its genesis inside his own 22m area.
Centre Huw Jones and lock JD Schickerling both rounded off tries from turnovers deep in their own territory and prop Wilco Louw added some old-fashioned grunt with a burrowing score close to the line. And that was only in the first half.
After the break the Cheetahs played with more intensity and Province's rhythm stuttered with the introduction of the entire bench by the 50th minute, but they still managed to fashion a host of chances, only converting three of them. The Cheetahs scored two late consolation tries...

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