Can Naka 'out-kick' Jake?
Can Naka 'out-kick' Jake?SHARE
Accurate tactical kicking and solid set-piece play are set to be the key facets when the Brumbies host the Cheetahs in Canberra on Sunday.
The Australian conference winners, the Brumbies, will have home ground advantage in this preliminary play-off (effectively a quarterfinal), otherwise the teams seem to be very equally matched.
Both teams have a good kicking game, solid set pieces and a sound defensive system.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské, speaking to this website from his team's training base in Sydney, described the Brumbies as a "well-organised" team.
That is not surprising, given that former Springbok World Cup-winning coach Jake White is now the mentor of the Canberra-based outfit and much of what made South Africa's national team a success under his tutelage.
"Jake [White] knows exactly how he wants to play," the Cheetahs mentor said, adding: "He plays in the right areas on the field – his team won't play in their own half.
"They place a very high premium on set piece play and tactical kicking.
"Tactically we will have to be spot on, ensure our tactical kicking is on the mark."
Drotské felt the Brumbies' style suits knock-out games.
"We are well aware of what awaits and are under no illusion as to the enormity of the task," the Cheetahs coach told this website.
Drotské's assertion that the Brumbies play a low-risk game in which they take the points when on offer is borne out by statistics.
Apart from Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn (49), the Brumbies goal-kicker Christian Lealiifano has slotted the most penalty goals (44) in the 16 rounds of the competition's league phases.
In the out-of-hand kicking stakes the Brumbies also feature prominently – with three players from Canberra in the top 12, Jesse Mogg seventh with 96 kicks, Nic White (10th, 85) and Matt Toomua (12th, 81). The table topper is again Bulls pivot Morné Steyn (180).
The Cheetahs' top kicker, Willie le Roux, comes in at 13th place with 80 punts.
As for most kick metres, the Brumbies also feature higher than the Cheetahs.
Mogg comes in at No.7 with 3861 metres, Toomua (11th, 3064) and White (15th, 2806).
The Cheetahs are represented in the top 20 by Burton Francis (12th, 3061) and Le Roux (19th, 2439).
Again Steyn tops the list with 7354 metres.
The only area where the Cheetahs may have an edge on the Brumbies appears to be their willingness to run more – with loose forward Phillip van der Walt in sixth place with his 124 runs and no Brumby featuring in the top 20.
The Brumbies have scored 430 and conceded 295 (a match average of 27-18); while they have scored 43 tries in 16 games and conceded 31 (a match average of three scored and two conceded).
Again the Cheetahs are not too far off the mark – 382 points for, 358 against (24-22 per match; 38 tries for, 32 against (two for, two against per match).
Drotské said his team, which arrived in Sydney on Monday and will only travel to Canberra on Saturday, will focus mostly on their mental preparation this week.
"We were in the fortunate situation that we had a bye last week, so we put most of the hard work [in Bloemfontein] on Thursday and Friday," he told this website.
"We are aiming to keep our training sessions below and hour this week to keep the players sharp ahead of Saturday's game.
"The hard work has already been done.
"When it comes to play-offs it is more it is more about the mental preparations."
By Jan de Koning