Cheetahs: No 'freebies' for Hurricanes

Wed, 08 May 2013 14:05
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It has been more than 160 minutes since anybody has breached the Cheetahs' much-improved defence, a statistic they are hoping to improve.

It has been more than 160 minutes since anybody has breached the Cheetahs' much-improved defence, a statistic they are hoping to improve.

Speaking to this website, ahead of his team's Round 13 encounter with the Hurricanes in Bloemfontein on Friday, assistant coach Hawies Fourie said they are determined to produce another clean sheet under the 'tries conceded' column.

Lions loan player Callie Visagie was the last to score a try against the Cheetahs, when he touched down for the Bulls in their 26-20 win over the Bloemfontein outfit on April 13.

The Sharks, in Round 10, and Southern Kings (Round 11) both failed to cross the Cheetahs' line.

In past seasons the Cheetahs' fine attacking play was mostly undermined by their sloppy defence.

This season, having conceded just 19 tries after 12 weeks (at the same stage last season they had already let in 36 tries), the Cheetahs are sitting pretty in the top six on the standings and are genuine contenders for a play-off spot in mid-July.

However, the Cheetahs know their defensive competency will be put to the test by a Hurricanes team capable of cutting any side to shreds.

Despite their heavy (14-48) loss to the Bulls last week, the Cheetahs' backline coach, Fourie, saw enough in the two tries the Kiwis scored to know his team will have to be at their best for the full 80 minutes.

"The Hurricanes may have suffered [a heavy loss] against the Bulls, but it is vital that we get quality possession [against the Hurricanes], retain the ball and use it well," Fourie told this website.

While their defence has been vastly improved from previous seasons, the Cheetahs believe that on attack they can do a lot better and make better use of their possession.

"The other point of focus will be to ensure we play a sound kicking game in our half and not give them too many chance to counter," the Cheetahs mentor said.

"We must not allow them too much broken play, because that is when they are at their most dangerous.

"Obviously on defence we want to retain our high standards.

"In the last two games [victories over the Sharks and Kings] we did not concede a single try - we would like to keep that clean sheet this week."

He again pointed to the team's attack as an area of "concern".

"We are in the fortunate position that our attack has always been a strength," he said, adding: "The issue was to bring our defence on par with our attack.

"Although the media keep talking about the entertaining rugby we play, I feel we are not near how good we can be and should be.

"This next month [with matches against the Hurricanes, Reds, Kings and Bulls] is important for us to get our attacking game up to a standard where we feel we can be as a team."

By Jan de Koning

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