Marais: Pressure is on the Cheetahs

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 12:39
Large nollis marais bulls media 800

REACTION: Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais believes that the Free State Cheetahs will head into the Currie Cup Final with plenty of pressure on their shoulders, after defeating the Golden Lions in their semifinal in Bloemfontein.

The Cheetahs finished top of the Currie Cup Premier Division table, in first place, with 39 points, from eight matches played, which included eight wins on the trot. They then outscored the Lions by six tries to three, en route to a mammoth 55-17 victory on Saturday.

In the second semifinal, the Bulls were made to work hard for a place in next weekend's Currie Cup Final as replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl scored a try in the 78th minute against Western Province in Pretoria, which sent the Pretoria-based side into their first Currie Cup Final since they last won the tournament in 2009.

The Bulls finished the Currie Cup Premier Division in second position on the table with 30 points from eight matches played, which included six wins and two defeats.

Speaking to journalists at the post-match press conference in Pretoria on Saturday, Marais said that the Cheetahs are a young side playing with plenty of confidence and the Bulls know the enormity of the task which awaits them in Bloemfontein next weekend.

"I think the Cheetahs are an excellent side," said Marais. "They haven't lost a game - the Lions [2015 Currie Cup champions] didn't lose one game last year and they won the Currie Cup, so all the momentum is with them [Cheetahs] at the moment. 

"But I think our side is playing good rugby and I think that we will have one or two plans up our sleeve.

"That's a young side that is playing with a lot of confidence and I must admit I think that our side is also a young side playing with a lot of confidence, so it's going to be an interesting match. We know how good they are, so we won't go down there [Bloemfontein] and underestimate them." 

The Bulls were sent packing with a defeat against Western Province at the semifinal stage of last year's tournament and Marais added that the Bulls have done their job in winning their home semifinal and now the weight of expectation will shift to the Cheetahs.

"Dobbo [Western Province coach John Dobson] said this week as well, the pressure was on us - home game, so the pressure is definitely on them [Cheetahs]," explained Marais.

The Bulls most recent match against the Cheetahs was during the Currie Cup Premier Division round-robin phase and on that occasion, the Cheetahs outscored the Bulls by six tries to two, en route to a 43-20 bonus-point victory in Bloemfontein in August.

By Josh Isaacson
@isaacson_j
@rugby365com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
Connacht v Zebre 19h35 Ascoli Piceno
Ulster v Treviso 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Edinburgh v Ospreys 19h35 Myreside
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 20h15 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 04 March 2017
Hurricanes v Rebels 04h15 Wellington
Highlanders v Crusaders 06h45 Dunedin
Brumbies v Sharks 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Kings 10h55 Singapore
Lions v Waratahs 13h05 Johannesburg
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Welford Road
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 15h00 Scotstoun Stadium
Worcester Warriors v Bristol 15h00 Sixways
Bath v Wasps 15h00 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Harlequins 15h00 Kingsholm
Stormers v Jaguares 15h15 Cape Town
Cardiff Blues v Munster 17h15 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Cheetahs v Bulls 17h30 Bloemfontein
Leinster v Scarlets 19h35 RDS Arena
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
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