Cheetahs not on a bonus-point rush

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 10:55

REACTION: The Free State Cheetahs will look to build on their early season momentum and become more consistent.

Chasing their first Currie Cup title since 2007, the men from Bloemfontein got off to a flying start with back-to-back bonus-point victories - over the Boland Cavaliers (44-16) and Blue Bulls (43-20) - before making a big statement with a 32-25 win over Western Province at Newlands this past weekend.

With the defending champion Golden Lions, who had a bye in Week One, having lost to Griquas this past weekend, it meant the Cheetahs and Sharks have opened a handy gap at the top of the standings in a shortened season.

The Sharks, with three consecutive bonus-point victories, shade the Cheetahs on the standings - 15 points to 14.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith dismissed the notion that the 'lost' bonus point at Newlands could be an issue.

He also said that while momentum is important, they see every week as a new challenge.

"While momentum does play a role, our challenge is to be consistent every week," Smith told rugby365 in an interview.

"Free State have been inconsistent for a long time. That is why consistency is our main topic at the moment."

He said the fact that the Cheetahs did not get a bonus point in Cape Town this past weekend is also not a major concern.

"It would have been unrealistic to have gone to Newlands and expect a bonus point win," he said, adding: "There are three players in this team who have previously won at Newlands and that was not even in a Free State jersey.

Our main objective was to get a win [at Newlands] and repeat our performance from the previous week," he said of their demolition of the Bulls in Round Two.

"The bonus point [we did not get] is not the end of the world.

"There will be opportunities [in the coming weeks] and if we continue to play well it will not be an issue."

He said there were no serious injuries after the win at Newlands, other than "a few bumps and bruises".

"We have a break [bye] and then we'll have a good idea who will be available," Smith told rugby365, adding that a number of players could return from injury.

Wing Sergeal Petersen, who suffered a knee injury in the opening round encounter with the Boland Cavaliers, is recovering well.

Captain and centre Francois Venter is making good progress from his injury, while Danie Minnie is also on the road to recovery.

"There will be a number of players who will become available," Smith said of their Round Five encounter with the Eastern Province Kings in Bloemfontein on September 3.

By Jan de Koning
@King365ed
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 30 September 2016
Golden Lions v Sharks 15h00 Johannesburg
EP Kings v Pumas 16h00 Nelspruit
Western Province v Boland 17h10 Cape Town
Dragons v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Rodney Parade
Connacht v Edinburgh 18h35 Sportsground
Bristol v Saracens 18h45 Ashton Gate
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 18h45 Franklin's Gardens
Sat, 01 October 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Griquas 12h00 Bloemfontein
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers 13h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
South Africa v Australia 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Munster v Zebre 16h00 Thomond Park
Ulster v Ospreys 17h30 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Leinster 18h35 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Cardiff Blues v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Stadio Monigo
Sun, 02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand 22h10 Ascoli Piceno
Wasps v Harlequins 13h30 Ricoh Arena
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons 14h00 Sixways
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 7 7 0 0 34
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Sharks 7 5 0 2 25
Western Province 7 4 0 3 23
Golden Lions 7 4 0 3 22
Griquas 7 4 0 3 20
Boland 7 2 0 5 9
Pumas 7 0 0 7 5
EP Kings 7 0 0 7 1