Cornered Cheetahs to lash out

Tue, 25 Sep 2012 10:27
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The Cheetahs believe that the only way to save their Currie Cup campaign is to play a positive and attacking brand of rugby in the coming weeks.

The Cheetahs believe that the only way to save their Currie Cup campaign is to play a positive and attacking brand of rugby in the coming weeks.

The Bloemfontein side find themselves on the bottom of the standings with just three rounds left before the play-offs and have resolved to take the game to the opposition in a bid to sneak into the semifinals.

Having been dogged by inconsistent performances which have seen them miss out in a few narrow defeats this season, the Cheetahs find themselves in a desperate situation, and backline coach Hawies Fourie believes that their mental approach to their remaining matches will be key.

He told this website: "It is important for the guys to stay positive and play attacking rugby.

"I think we get into our shells and everyone is scared to put their hand up and if you are scared to make mistakes you will definitely not win the game so everybody has got to come out and contribute," said Fourie.

Their erratic campaign was summed up quite well in their last game, which saw them turn things around after half-time against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versveld only to fall short once more.

Although they enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, they failed to make it count and played all of their rugby behind the gainline which was a huge frustration for Fourie who admitted that scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn has battled to find enough fluency at flyhalf.

"We just moved the ball from side to side, we had about six or seven phases on the Bulls ten metre line and we couldn't gain one single metre.

"We have given Tewis two games at flyhalf and he made a few decision-making errors so we will have a look at that," he said.

The second-half revival was sparked by the introduction of prop Coenie Oosthuizen and flyhalf Sias Ebersohn, who gave them the kind of attacking purpose they will need to challenge for a semifinal place.

"We played a lot better in the second half, guys like Coenie made a huge difference and Sias Ebersohn as well - he made the right decisions and he got the backline going so that was quite an improvement on the previus two or three weeks on attack," said Fourie.

Oosthuizen has been called up to the Springbok squad, so he is not likely to feature for the Cheetahs again this season, but Fourie said that he can understand why Bok coach Heyneke Meyer would want to call on such a quality player.

"It is a big blow, you could see the difference he makes to the side, especially on attack, he is a very good player and if I was in Heyneke's shoes I would also have called him into the squad," he said.

The first obstacle in the Cheetahs' quest to gain some late consistency and momentum are the Griquas who Fourie believes will be particularly tricky this weekend as they have not suffered any major injuries.

"They [Griquas] haven't got any injuries to key players so they have got a full-strength squad and it will be a very tough game. They need to win to get into a semifinal and we need to win to keep our hopes alive so it will definitely be a tough battle," he said.

Fourie said that although his side will look to be positive, they will not be taking anything for granted against a confident Griquas outfit that have already proven how dangerous they can be this season.

"I think the main thing is to win the game and if there is a chance of a bonus point we will definitely go for that but you can't take Griquas for granted.

They have played good rugby in the Currie Cup thus far and they have beaten teams like the Lions and the Sharks that are on top of the log so they will back themselves to beat any team so we have got to play really well to put ourselves in a winning position and if there is time left for a bonus point try we will definitely go for that," he explained.

By Michael de Vries

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Team P W D L Pts
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Free State Cheetahs 10 3 2 5 24
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