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The dance of the desperates

Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:11
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There is obviously plenty at stake this coming weekend
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The equation is simple: win or forget about featuring in the Currie Cup play-offs.

This is the desperate scenario facing the Free State Cheetahs and Blue Bulls, the two most successful teams on the domestic scene in the 21st century.

Between them they have won seven Currie Cup titles in the last decade, but when they go  head-to-head in Pretoria on Saturday the loser may well end up playing in a promotion-relegation match next match.

Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie said that while the pressure is on "all the teams", it is certainly more so for the Bulls and Free State - as there remain just four weeks of league action and very little room for error.

"The pressure in this game will be enormous, as the team who lose this one will most probably fail to make the play-offs," Fourie told this website, adding: "There is obviously plenty at stake this coming weekend."

There is also the looming promotion-relegation game, probably against the new Super Rugby franchise the Kings, at the end of the season.

"[Yes,] that is an issue, but at this stage that is not our focus," Fourie said.

"We know that through hard work we can still reach the play-offs.

"Our focus for now is to [win enough games to] reach the semifinals and not worry about trying to avoid a promotion-relegation game.

"We know exactly what we must do to get into the play-offs and we are working on achieving those goals ... at least that is still in our own hands."

The Bulls, who like the Cheetahs, have lost their last three matches will have exactly the same emotive reasons to strive for an important win.

However, they have one advantage over the rivals - the game is being played at the iconic Loftus Versfeld.

"Every team are 15 to 20 percent better on their home ground ... that certainly is a factor," Fourie told this website.

"While they [the Bulls] are not having a good run, we are not doing much better.

"We certainly won't be able to take anything for granted, we'll have to be at our absolute best to get that much-need win in Pretoria."

By Jan de Koning

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