When fatigue sets in the correct calls are not being made
The erratic Free State Cheetahs have a challenging run-in to the Currie Cup play-offs and it will require of them to remain 'switched on' for a full 80 minutes in each game.
Currently fourth on the standings, the Cheetahs the Sharks in Bloemfontein and Western Province in Cape Town in the final fortnight of the competition's league stages.
That means there is simply no margin for error if they are to stay ahead of Griquas and the Blue Bulls in the home stretch.
"It is a tough game [against the Sharks on Saturday], but it is a home game and you simply have to win your home games," Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie told this website.
"We have already lost two [matches] here in Bloemfontein, so we simply can't afford to lose another home game.
"We will have to be at our best and simply can't afford another slump like we had in the 20 minutes after the half-time break against Griquas," he said of a period which saw them race into a 17-3 lead inside the first half-hour, only for the visitors to level at 20-all with 20 minutes to go.
A late rally sealed the win for the Cheetahs, but Fourie admitted slumps like those will be costly in the next few weeks.
"You can attribute it to just one thing, but my feeling is that when fatigue starts to set in, in the second half, then we have fewer players who take initiative, communicate and make the right calls," he said of his team's customary slumps.
"It is a case of when fatigue sets in the correct calls are not being made and we do not make the right plays."
Fourie, who said he had spoken to their conditioning coach about ways to rectify the problem, felt it is not something you change overnight.
"I feel we do have to create situations in training where the guys are under pressure and called upon to make calls when they are tired.
"It is not a case of the players being unfit, it is when fatigue becomes a factor the players must remain switched on ... communicate and look at what is happening on the field.
"We are certainly not the only team that has those slumps.
"It is certainly more the mental conditioning that needs addressing than the physical conditioning," he added.
By Jan de Koning