No Newlands 'fear factor'

Wed, 14 Aug 2013 12:01
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The Cheetahs may have a fearsome start to their Currie Cup campaign, but they are not having any sleepless nights over the venue of their next outing.

The Cheetahs may have a fearsome start to their Currie Cup campaign, but they are not having any sleepless nights over the venue of their next outing.

Two away matches - against the recently promoted Super Rugby franchise the Golden Lions and defending champions Western Province - is what is first up for a Cheetahs team that played in a Currie Cup promotion-relegation match last year.

While the quality of the opposition certainly presents a 'daunting' challenge, the venue of their Round Two encounter, Newlands, holds no 'fear factor' for the men from Bloemfontein.

It is the Cheetahs' most recent track record that makes Newlands feel like a home away from home - two wins in their last three encounters with WP in Cape Town.

In 2010 the Cheetahs won 29-24 and a year later that winning margin was 34-20 for the Free Staters.

Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie admitted that travelling to Cape Town for an encounter with Province remains a huge hurdle, but they enjoy playing at Newlands.

"In the Currie Cup competition we normally do well there, so there's no mental block about the venue," Fourie told this website.

"However, we do know that we will have to be at our very best if we want to win this weekend."

He added that the Round One results showed that the margins are very small and all the team are very competitive.

"If you want to feature in the semifinals you will have to take all your opportunities.

"We do back ourselves to win at Newlands, as it is something we achieve often, but we do have respect for them and the players in their squad."

Fourie admitted that starting with two away encounters is "very tough", but added that they are up for the challenge.

"We are grateful for the win and the bonus point we got against the Lions [in Johannesburg last week]," the backline mentor told this website.

"That [the five points] has relieved some pressure and I am sure we will be able to play with a bit more freedom [at Newlands].

"Western Province are tough and they have lost very few players from their Super Rugby squad, especially up front.

"We expect them to come with a huge onslaught in the scrums and their contesting at line-outs are always very good, so they will put pressure on us there."

Fourie admitted the Blues Bulls didn't do them any favours either, by holding WP to a draw in Week One.

"My expectations were that WP would beat the Bulls relatively easily, given the number of players the Bulls lost [to Bok call-ups and departures abroad].

"However, we know the Bulls always have great depth and plenty of good young players in their system. They also bought a number of players from the Kings, so they will be strong contenders in the Currie Cup competition.

"That last try the Bulls scored [to draw the Round One encounter] would have angered Province a little, so there would have been some harsh words spoken this week and they will come out all guns blazing."

By Jan de Koning

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Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
Golden Lions 8 5 0 3 26
Sharks 8 5 0 3 25
Griquas 8 4 0 4 21
Boland 8 2 0 6 11
Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
EP Kings 8 0 0 8 1