Morgan Piek – This coming Sunday morning sees the return of Andries Strauss at centre for the Toyota Cheetahs when they go in to battle against fellow strugglers the Melbourne Rebels. Strauss returns from the two week suspension he picked up in his sides narrow loss to the MTN Lions at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg in the opening week of the 2012 Super Rugby tournament.
The return of Strauss is good news for the men from central South Africa. They have been battling in the midfield without the services of the Springbok centre.
Many feel the Cheetahs were hard done by when they got a penalty awarded against them in the 80th minute of their previous game against the Brumbies in Canberra. Sure, the referee on the day, Keith Brown, had an indifferent day and his call to penalise the Cheetahs in the last minute might not have been the right call. However, I truly believe the Cheetahs were in control of the game should have played for more than sixty minutes. To quote the former Springbok coach Ian McIntosh “Play the game in such a way that the referee cannot influence the outcome”. These words were reiterated earlier in the week by the “controversial” former Springbok prop Ollie le Roux.
I believe the game changed when Naka started ringing the changes, Tewis du Bruyn came off way too early and was replaced by Piet van Zyl. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Piet van Zyl and I reckon he is a star in the making. Up until the point Tewis was changed, the Cheetahs were dominating the game, and this was largely due the Tewis having and outstanding game.
A week on and this has all become spilt milk and there’s no point in dwelling on the past. More importantly, the men from Bloem have to focus their attention to the Rebels who can count themselves very unlucky to have gone down to the defending Champions the Reds in Brisbane. The Rebels simply played brilliantly and looked exceptionally dangerous at times. They were able to rattle the Reds on several occasions during the 80 minutes.
A spirited Rebels outfit with the services of Wallabies Kurtly Beale and James O’Connor will most certainly not be an easy prospect. I recently wrote that the Rebels should be the game the Cheetahs won’t have any problems with on tour, but this might actually be a very hard game indeed. A team of “nobodies” and team spirit is more often than not more dangerous than a team full of superstars.
If the Cheetahs are able to exert the same forward dominance as they did against the Brumbies the game may very well be theirs. I personally can’t wait to see the Griquas new boy Willie le Roux in action on the leftwing again. The youngster is very exciting and scored a beautiful try last week which could be the try of the season so far. After a good game last week I’m rather looking for to seeing Coenie Oosthuizen pack down on the loosehead again. He brings a certain vibe to the Cheetahs and it could clearly be seen last week.
This game should be tight and I really can’t tell you who will take it. My heart says the Cheetahs, but my head seems to differ. Nevertheless, I think this game will be a perfect antidote for the previous nights’ St. Paddy’s Day celebrations.
Kick-off is at 7:10am CAT, Sunday 18 March. At the AAMI Stadium, Melbourne, Australia.
The Toyota Cheetahs team is a follows:
1. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Adriaan Strauss ( c ), 3. WP Nel, 4. George Earle, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 7. Davon Raubenheimer, 8. Philip van der Walt, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Willie le Roux, 12. Andries Strauss (vc), 13. Robert Ebersohn, 14. Cameron Jacobs, 15. Hennie Daniller
16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Justin Downey, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Ryno Benjamin