For Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss the clash with the Bulls was a bittersweet affair as his 100th Super Rugby cap ended in defeat.
For Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss Saturday's match against the Bulls was a bittersweet affair as his 100th Super Rugby cap ended in a 21-26 loss to the three-time champions.
Strauss would have been on cloud nine had his team managed to build on the 13-3 lead they enjoyed in the first half, but failure to stick to their strategy of preventing the Bulls from getting their rolling mauls going proved fatal at the end.
The Springbok hooker was understandably disappointed after the contest.
“It (playing in my 100th) is special, it is an honour, I've got great memories playing this game, but at the end of the day it is another number and you want to win on the day and put in a good performance and unfortunately we could not do that today,” he said.
“The 100th is great but the loss will stand out on the day.”
Strauss insisted that his men had no pre-meditated plans to wheel the Bulls scrum in the second half adding that the number of penalties they conceded at scrum-time, particularly in the second-half, was a cause for concern.
He was far more pleased with the way in which his men went about their business in the first 40-minutes even though he would have preferred a bigger buffer at the break.
“It is vital when you have a lead, to extend it,” added Strauss.
“A seven, five or three-pointer makes a massive difference.
“Credit to the Bulls they have a way of moulding you to their game plan through kicks and line-out drives and once they get into your territory they keep the ball and they capitalise.”
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske was equally disappointed with the loss that saw his side return to the bottom of the Super Rugby standings, but still managed to highlight a few positives from their recent performances.
“Our discipline let us down in the second half, we let it slip by conceding too many penalties,” said Drotske.
“The way we are playing now is much better, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves in the first four-five weeks.
Asked what his men would look to accomplish in the remaining rounds of the tournament, Drotske replied: “We still have pride, our supporters and our sponsors to play for so one win changes a lot and it is important for many players to fight for a place in the Springbok team.
“Their form is important and this is a professional sport and the guys have to fight to get contracted next year. Players need to accept that this is their job.”
Drotske said that one of the main contributing factors to their first round win over the Bulls was their ability to stop the driving maul from gaining momentum.
Something his charges failed to do at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
By Michael Mentz