16/02/2020 – HARD WORK NECESSARY AFTER BOTH SA TEAMS STRUGGLE AT START OF PRO14 TOURS

The two South African teams participating in PRO14 Rugby were reintroduced the realities of touring the northern hemisphere at the peak of winter as they were both comprehensively outplayed at the start of their respective tours.
Champions Leinster extended their unbeaten run in all competitions this season to 17 by handing the Toyota Cheetahs a lesson in how to execute in wet weather rugby when they won 36-12 at a drenched RDS Arena in Dublin on Saturday. A day earlier the Isuzu Southern Kings didn't really have weather as an excuse but ran into a Munster team in red hot form to match their jerseys and ended up losing 68-3.
A total of 15 tries against two across the two games does not read well, and the two came in a bizarre last quarter of the Cheetahs game against Leinster, so at one stage it was 15 tries to zip. It was a bizarre last quarter in the sense that the Cheetahs, with their scrum destroying their opponents once the reserves came on, dominated their opponents in that period to the extent that it was hard to fathom what happened earlier.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said that the last 25 minutes of the game, where the Cheetahs scored twice and Leinster didn't move their score along at all, was encouraging, but admitted that the first 50 minutes just weren't good enough.
"We came back well in the last half an hour and preformed really well in that period and controlled a certain aspect of our game (the scrums) and put a lot of pressure on them but the first half just wasn't good enough in the conditions," said Fourie.
"We didn't start well. In the first half we were playing with the wind but we couldn't use it because we had very little ball to play with. Leinster played most of the game in our 22. We resisted the pressure initially but in the last 20 minutes of the first half they scored 22 points and that killed us.
"We struggled to keep the ball in the wet weather. Ball possession was a massive problem and Leinster played really well in the conditions. They have gone 17 games unbeaten and are probably the best team in Europe at the moment and it showed. We have a lot of work to do before our next game against Ulster if we are going to come right in these conditions."
A lot of work also awaits the Kings, and if a hint from coach Robbi Kempson is being read correctly, perhaps a rethink on both the personnel employed and the game plan being applied at this point of the squad's development.
"Started building a few phases at one stage but at crucial moments we'd cough the ball up and get turned over and Munster would punish us," said a frustrated Kempson after his team's game.
"Unfortunately it happens week in and week out. Maybe in certain areas we either have to adapt our personnel or the way we want to play the game. We want to be more expansive but at this juncture we are not getting that right."
What particularly frustrated Kempson was the recurrent malaise of indiscipline that again cost his team any chance of settling early in the game, with fullback Andell Loubser being binned as early as the eighth minute.
"It was very frustrating to see the discipline again being a problem and being a yellow card down within the first 10 minutes. It is small things we are not doing well. We are not managing the things we can control and when you cough up the ball to a very strong team like Munster it is is fatal.
"But credit to Munster. They have one of the best attacking flyhalves in the game playing for them, and they were outstanding with their pace on the ball and were also very strong with ball in hand. It surprises me they haven't gone further in Europe than they have because they are an excellent team."
The Cheetahs game against Ulster is set for Saturday night (9.35pm) while the Kings head now to Wales to prepare for their game against the Scarlets next Sunday (7.25pm).