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, 27 May 2016
Boland v Eagles 13h00 Wellington
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 13h00 Bloemfontein
Border v Falcons 17h00 East London
Kings v Jaguares 17h00 Ascoli Piceno
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Connacht v Leinster 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 12 7 0 5 34
Brumbies 11 7 0 4 29
Rebels 10 5 0 5 23
Reds 13 3 1 9 16
Force 11 2 0 9 11
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 12 9 0 3 42
Crusaders 11 9 0 2 41
Hurricanes 12 8 0 4 40
Highlanders 12 8 0 4 38
Blues 11 6 1 4 29
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Bulls 11 7 1 3 32
Stormers 11 6 1 4 32
Cheetahs 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 1 1 9 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 11 8 0 3 37
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 11 2 0 9 13
Kings 11 1 0 10 4