Languid Cheetahs under no illusions

Wed, 19 Mar 2014 07:39
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The Cheetahs know they have a monumental mountain to climb if they are to end their three-match losing streak on their Australasian tour.

The Cheetahs know they have a monumental mountain to climb if they are to end their three-match losing streak on their Australasian tour.

However, the players and management from last-placed Bloemfontein-based outfit, remain resolute in their believe that the turning point on a bitterly disappointing season is just around the corner.

Assistant coach Hawies Fourie, speaking to this website from the team's training base in Auckland, ahead of their Round Six Super Rugby encounter with the Blues on Saturday, said the Cheetahs will have to "make a big step up" from their recent performances.

Disappointing defeats against the Rebels (14-35), Reds (33-43) and Hurricanes (27-60) - in the wake of their only win of the season, 15-9 over the Bulls in monsoon-like conditions in Bloemfontein - have left the Cheetahs stick at the foot of the standings.

"We know we are under pressure," Fourie told this website, adding: "We had high expectations of the season and the tour and we have not played well at all.

"We are under no illusions that we will have to show massive improvements."

He added that they are well aware that the Blues remain a very dangerous team, despite losing to both the Bulls and Lions on their just completed tour of South Africa.

"Against the Crusaders [in Week Three] they were down 3-17 [after half-an-hour] and won rather comfortably [35-24, after scoring 29 unanswered points in a 20-minute blitz]," the Cheetahs' backline mentor pointed out.

"They are a side against you can't afford to relax for a single moment.

"Against the Lions this [past] weekend it was the same - they were trailing by 20 points [0-20 early in the second half] and came close to winning [eventually losing 36-39].

"They have exceptionally dangerous outside backs."

Fourie said the Cheetahs simply can't afford to allow the Blues any space.

"We will have to improve on defence," he said, adding: "Our one-on-one tackles are simply not good enough and teams all too easily get momentum against us and quick ball at the breakdown.

"We will have to make a big step up in that regard."

By Jan de Koning

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