Cheetahs looking to be second best

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:51
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The Cheetahs may effectively be out of the Super Rugby play-off race, but they still have a big 'prize' in their sights.

The Cheetahs may effectively be out of the Super Rugby play-off race, but they still have a big 'prize' in their sights.

While a top-six tournament finish appears beyond their grasp, finishing second in the South African conference remains a very realistic goal for the team from Bloemfontein.

The Sharks are run-away leaders on the SA standings with 27 points after seven matches - followed by the Bulls (18 points from eight matches), the Lions (16, eight), Cheetahs (nine, eight) and Stormers (six, seven).

Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie, speaking to this website ahead of their Round 10 encounter with the Sharks in Durban, said they have amended their goals for the season after last week's 31-52 loss to the Crusaders left them hovering in second-last place on the standings.

"We spoke about our goals," Fourie said, adding: "We feel we still have a realistic chance to finish second in the South African conference."

Of their eight remaining games, six are against South African teams - Sharks (in Durban), Stormers (Bloemfontein) and Bulls (Pretoria), before two matches against overseas visitors (the Western Force and Brumbies both in Bloemfontein), followed by another three matches against SA opposition, the Stormers (Cape Town), Sharks (Bloemfontein) and Lions (Johannesburg).

"Our goal now is to finish second on the SA conference," he said, adding that they realise they need to improve drastically in certain aspects of their game.

"We are simply making far too many mistakes.

"The Crusaders [last week] scored four of their tries after our errors, from turnovers at the breakdown or in contact," Fourie said of their 31-52 loss in Bloemfontein - after they held a 31-26 lead going into the final quarter.

"In another instance the players we just not switched on at a free kick and the quick tap resulted in a try.

"Those are mostly small things with which we put ourselves under pressure - we are working hard on eradicating those errors."

The Cheetahs backline coach said they feel their defence has been improving in recent weeks, despite leaking 12 tries in their last two matches - four tries in the last quarter against the Chiefs and four in the last 20 minutes against the Crusaders as well.

"Critics will point to the scoreboard, but many of those tries have nothing to do with our defence, but rather comes from turnovers on attack and the breakdown when we don't have time to regroup on defence," the Cheetahs' assistant coach said.

"While we are continuing to work on our defence, it is on attack where we need to start looking after our possession much better and not concede as many turnovers."

By Jan de Koning

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 01 July 2016
Chiefs v Crusaders 07h35 Suva
Brumbies v Reds 09h40 Canberra
EP Kings v Griquas 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Blue Bulls v Boland 17h00 Loftus Versfeld
Sat, 02 July 2016
Sunwolves v Waratahs 05h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Blues 07h35 Wellington
Rebels v Stormers 09h40 Melbourne
Free State Cheetahs v Falcons 10h05 Bloemfontein
Golden Lions v Griffons 12h05 Johannesburg
Western Province v Eagles 13h00 Newlands
Namibia v Border 13h00 Windhoek
Cheetahs v Force 13h00 Bloemfontein
Sharks v Leopards 15h00 Durban
Kings v Highlanders 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Lions v Sharks 17h10 Johannesburg
Jaguares v Bulls 21h40 Buenos Aires
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 12 8 0 4 34
Waratahs 12 7 0 5 34
Rebels 12 6 0 6 27
Reds 12 3 1 8 16
Force 12 2 0 10 12
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 10 0 2 45
Chiefs 12 9 0 3 42
Hurricanes 12 8 0 4 40
Highlanders 12 8 0 4 38
Blues 12 6 1 5 30
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 1 4 36
Bulls 12 7 1 4 32
Cheetahs 12 3 0 9 17
Sunwolves 12 1 1 10 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 9 0 3 42
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 12 2 0 10 14
Kings 12 2 0 10 9