Cheetahs to run the Kings ragged?
Cheetahs to run the Kings ragged?SHARE
They may have an ability to adapt and play a more conservative game, but on Saturday the Cheetahs will be at their most expansive.
The conditions, such as the monsoon-like driving rain in their 12-6 win over the Sharks last week, dictated that they follow a more conservative approach.
But with more favourable weather predicted for their Round 11 Super Rugby encounter with the Kings in Bloemfontein on Saturday, the Cheetahs are likely to give full expression to their creatine side.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie admitted that they have been frustrated by the poor conditions in some of their games this season.
"We have been watching the weather reports for the last few days and the [reports say the] chance of rain is zero, so we are very happy about that," he told this website in an interview ahead of the all-South African derby.
"Last weekend was very frustrating for a team like ours.
"However, we had to adjust to the conditions, as we did.
"This weekend we'll be able to keep the ball in hand a lot more."
Fourie the team would like to play to its strengths, but added that a good characteristics of a champion team is one that can adjust to the circumstances.
"The Rebels game was similar," he told this website, adding: "We were keen to run up a big score against them, but the conditions required that in the first half we had to play a more tactical game and kick a bit more.
"In the second half we played a bit more like we are accustomed to.
"However, that is one thing we have done better this year, is to adjust to the conditions on the field and in games.
"Sometimes in a game there are situations where you need to retain the ball more through phases or kick tactically and that aspects is something the team is getting right more often."
Asked what has contributed to the team's ability to make those mid-game changes, an inability that cost them dearly in previous seasons, he pointed to continuity in the team.
"We have players who are maturing and the fact that we have had the same core group for about three years now is making a big difference."
Add to that the relative lack of long-term injuries to key players – with flyhalf Johann Goosen and lock Martin Muller the exceptions – and the Cheetahs have a luxury they did not have before.
"Next week is our first bye, then we have four more games and then a month-long break when the Springboks play," he said, when asked about the prospects of keeping the playing group unchanged and settled.
"After that we have two more games and then our final bye in the last week.
"With that in mind, I feel we should be able to manage the injuries very well."
And while the decision to award point for teams on a bye continues to baffle teams, the sixth-placed Cheetahs know they have eight points (two 'wins') in the bank.
"We are the only team who have not had a bye yet, so we still have to add those [eight] points to our tally," the backline coach said.
"We have played ourselves into a great position, especially with all the away wins – three abroad [Highlanders in Invercargill, Waratahs in Sydney, Force in Perth] and now the Sharks [in Durban].
"That is four great away wins and that is worth gold."
Last week's win over the Sharks means that home loss in the first round has been recouped.
"Yes, we got that one back – it was a huge disappointment to loose to them [the Sharks] here [in Bloemfontein].
"Both teams were poor on the day, but we have now won in Durban to recoup the points."
By Jan de Koning