The Toyota Cheetahs take a lot of confidence out of their 45-0 drubbing of the Southern Kings over the weekend as they prepare for their next Guinness PRO14 tour.
The Cheetahs face another tough tour to Europe and this time they will be facing the champions, Leinster, in Dublin, Ulster in Belfast, and the Dragons in Newport.
Leinster top the standing in Conference A with 47 points, followed by Ulster on 36 points and the Cheetahs on 31 points.
The Cheetahs captain, Ruan Pienaar, who is an Ulster legend in his own right, told Bloemfontein Courant that they can still sharpen up on their attack.
“On the attack, I think that there are still too many errors. We will be playing against three very good teams and we are only going to get a handful of chances to score points. If you don’t take those chances it is going to be a very long day.
“Thankfully we have a few days to work on that before we have to jump on the plane and go over there.
We take confidence from the win against the Southern Kings. To beat a team by 45-points takes some hard work, no matter who you are playing against.”
The Cheetahs coach, Hawies Fourie, feel that their last-ditch win in Port Elizabeth set the tone for their return-leg in Bloemfontein, and this no doubt helped with his team’s confidence. Especially seeing that they were beaten 41-13 by Zebre and in Parma, and struggled against the Kings.
“The last 10 minutes of the Port Elizabeth game was very important to our whole campaign. Had we lost there, it could have gone pear-shaped for us,” said the Cheetahs coach.
“Coming back like we did and Ruan Pienaar slotting the conversion to win it for us, was huge for our confidence. As they say, a one-point win can make a huge difference for the morale, and the converse for the opposition. It showed what great character this side has and really pulled the guys together.
“If you look at the negative side, there were at least three tries we should have rounded off, which we didn’t. But there were lots of opportunities we created, which is what we have been working towards. We worked hard on our execution this week but we are still not quite where we want to be and we have some work to do before we tour.”
The head-to-head between Leinster and the Cheetahs currently stands at one all, with each team having a win in their two previous outings. With the Cheetahs and Ulster it is also one win a piece, while one game was drawn. The Cheetahs beat the Dragons in both of their two previous clashes.
The last time the Cheetahs faced Ulster they thumped the Northern Irish team 63-26 in Bloemfontein during round two of the current season.
The Cheetahs face the champions, Leinster, on 15 February at the RDS Arena in their first tour match. – MORGAN PIEK