The Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings learned “tough lessons” in the testing northern hemisphere conditions in the Guinness PRO14 over the weekend, with both sides suffering defeats in their second tour matches.
The Isuzu Southern Kings went down 50-0 against last season’s finalists, the Glasgow Warriors, in Scotland, while the Toyota Cheetahs went down 17-13 in a tightly-fought encounter against the Scarlets in Wales – with heavy rain and icy conditions greeting both sides.
Isuzu Southern Kings coach Robbi Kempson believed the result was a wake-up call for his team, as the young side struggled to contain the Glasgow Warriors outfit filled with internationals back from Rugby World Cup duty.
“It was a tough encounter,” said Kempson. “It was one of those rare and unfortunate compliments you get from the opposition when they play all their internationals. In previous seasons they fielded academy sides.”
He added: “It was good schooling for our lads, and it is important that we learn how to embrace those challenges. When sides are gearing up for European and Challenge Cup, I think we need to realise the level that we are playing against. It is not what we experienced in previous seasons.”
Kempson said despite the defeat, his team would not give up on their style of play or their desire to blood young talent.
“There were tough lessons learned, particularly for our younger players,” said Kempson. “Do we continue in the manner we are? – yes definitely. The reason we have a young squad is to ensure there is a learning curve, and we cannot discard them at any chance.
“We want to give them a chance to embrace these challenges going forward, and to realise what a tough competition the Guinness PRO14 is week-in and week-out.
“It will be no different this coming week, so it is up to us to show that we can take the next step in what we are trying to achieve.”
Toyota Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie was disappointed at his side’s tactical naivety in their loss to the Scarlets in Llanelli, but he felt they would cope better in similar conditions in future.
“We are disappointed about the defeat,” said Fourie. “While we felt that a few decisions went against us last week at crucial times, this result was our fault. The conditions were difficult and we didn’t adapt very well.”
He elaborated saying: “I felt we should have used more tactical kicking to place them under pressure, but we put up too many phases and played too much, and we made mistakes in the process.
“The difference between the sides for me was the second try the Scarlets scored from a turnover. In a situation where it is going to be a tight game, seven easy points conceded makes a big difference, and in this case it swung the momentum to their side.
“A lot of our guys haven’t played in rain for the last seven or eight months, so we will be better in the next game in these conditions.”
Fourie made it clear that one of their main goals going forward in the competition is to win away from home, saying: “We are disappointed because we get close every time and we want to change the momentum and win overseas.
“It is one of the goals that the team has set for themselves. We have one more chance this weekend against Cardiff and we will give everything in our power to do so.”