If this were any normal Super Rugby season when the Cheetahs go down by 14 points in the first half, you expect them to fight back only to cough it up in the last two minutes. Your pick of Coenie “sex on legs” Oosthuizen swan diving onto a ruck to give a penalty away in front of the posts or Hennie “I left my common sense with my fashion sense” Daniller with a wild speculative pass inside his own in goal area to allow the visiting team to break Free State hearts once more. Ear-splitting screams of “Vry-staaaat!” notwithstanding.
Not this season though. In Saturday night’s come from behind
miracle on ice last minute nail baiter the Bloemfontein boys held their nerve and clung to a desperate against the odds win over the Waratahs. Willie Le Roux might have a name more suited to a career in the adult entertainment industry, but his ability to cross the try line this weekend meant that Cheetahs fans had something to celebrate on the drive home from the stadium this weekend. With the win came confirmation that 2012 is the best Super Rugby season the franchise has had in its history. Best at least in terms of wins and results – after all a few former Cheetahs front rowers will still tell you that 1999 edged this one in terms of ability to pull girls on tour…
So tip of the hat to Cheetah’s coach
Tony Soprano Naka Drotske. The Cheetahs used to be everyone’s second favourite team simply because while they played a romantic idealist’s form of the game, they were never actually going to beat your number one team. The Cheetahs now inspire genuine hate from anyone in a Lion’s supporters jersey and have strung together a record 5 wins against decent opponents making a trip to Bloemfontein far more nervous than it used to be.
Add to that, prospects for 2013 look even better. While their season was ignited by uncovering wonderkid/boy genius/future flyhalf maestro/gift to mankind/anti-apartheid activist and former Robben Island struggle veteran Johan Goosen, some of these wins have been pulled off with Goosen still on the injury list. Rumour has it he is the next Johnnie Wilkinson and not just in the looks department. Not even the most one-eyed Lions fan could deny that the Cheetahs deserve their spot in the competition next year.
Hell… even their cheerleaders get the most improved badge of the year.