Cheetahs hope to shake SA bogey
Cheetahs hope to shake SA bogeySHARE
The Cheetahs hope to re-affirm their position as play-off candidates when they travel to Durban to take on the Sharks on Saturday.
However, they have to change a three-year trend of poor results against South African franchises if they are to remain in the top six.
Before their untimely stumble against the Bulls last week the Cheetahs were on an unprecedented five-match winning streak.
Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie, speaking to this website ahead of the Round 10 fixture, said one of their goals this season is to improve their showing against SA teams.
"It has been some time since we beat the Sharks," he said of a trend going back to their last win over the Durban outfit back in 2010.
"There was a time when we [the Cheetahs] were regarded as the Sharks' bogey team, but that is certainly not the case now – it is a new challenge that awaits us."
Apart from the 2010 win against the Sharks, the only other SA team the Cheetahs have beaten in the last three years are the now discarded Lions – whom the Cheetahs managed to overcome once every season since the home-and-away conference system was put in place.
"We had a positive result with that win against the Stormers [a fortnight ago] and we would like to add the Sharks to our list of [SA] victories," Fourie told this website.
The other vital factor is that the home-and-away conference system means domestic derbies are vital in terms of the play-off race.
"If you look at the [Super Rugby] standings, the top 11 teams all have a very good chance of reaching the play-offs," he said, adding: "The competition is very tight.
"In the SA conference the top four teams are bundled together [with just six points separating them] and we have not had a bye yet, so if you add those four points the standings could look very different.
"It is certainly open for any of the four [Sharks, Cheetahs, Bulls and Stormers] to claim top spot in the SA conference."
The Cheetahs backline coach said they will need to be far more clinical in Durban than they were in the 20-26 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria last week.
"The Bulls played very well and placed us under tremendous pressure with their kicking game," Fourie said, adding: "They succeeded in playing the biggest part of the match in our half.
"We also allowed a few chances slip away, while one or two poor decisions resulted in them getting points.
"Those are the things we need to correct, make the right calls and be more clinical in what we are doing.
"If we get that right we will have a fair chance to win this weekend."
By Jan de Koning