Cheetahs target semi-finals

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The Toyota Cheetahs forward, Friedle Olivier, said the pack prides itself of domimance and they want to take the physicality to the Pumas. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs will target a win on Saturday when they face the Pumas in Nelspruit in what is the penultimate rounds of Currie Cup games ahead of the semi-finals.

The pressure is on the Cheetahs after a run of three matches in which they weren’t able to secure a win in the competition. This has put the team’s qualification for a home semi-final in a very difficult spot, as they also still have to face the Bulls in Pretoria next week.

A win on Saturday against the defending Currie Cup champions will certainly not be an easy feat, as they too are under pressure after a string of three defeats in a row. In addition, the Cheetahs haven’t managed to beat the Pumas since 19 February 2022, and this translates to the last three games having all turned out favourably for the Pumas.

Since the Cheetahs’ 28-17 win in Nelspruit last year, the Pumas have won 29-28 in Bloemfontein, 38-35 in the semi-finals, while in round three they thumped a “second string” Cheetahs team 61-21, with this game also played in Bloemfontein.

Last week the Cheetahs could have booked their top-four finish, however, instead they played to a 29-29 draw against the Griquas and this has now added to the pressure.
The Cheetahs coach, Hawies Fourie, told Bloemfontein Courant that pressure isn’t always a bad thing, but a win this week will be crucial.

“We wanted to win it, and if we managed to do that, four points would have been enough for a definite place in the semi-finals,” said Fourie.

“There is a bit of pressure on us, but sometimes pressure is a good thing as well. We must just embrace the challenge and don’t overthink some things and I feel that we will be able to do it.”

With the Pumas, there is very seldom a certainty, but the one certain thing is that their coach Jimmy Stonehouse loves playing with a big and physical forwards pack. This is something that the Cheetahs will not shy away from and their physicality has been a bit of a trademark of theirs this season.

The versatile Cheetahs forward, Friedle Olivier, who can play as loose-forward or lock, just loves the physical stuff, and his big ball-carries are an asset to the Cheetahs.

Olivier told Bloemfontein Courant that they won’t stand back and they want to take the physicality to the Pumas.

“For us as a forwards pack, we have a motto where we strive to become the most dominant forwards pack in the country,” said Olivier.

“With every game, we go out there and give it our all to show that we are the best pack on the field, and this weekend it will be the same story.

“We will go out and we will want to dominate our setpieces and we want to dominate the contact on attack and defence. We are looking forward to the opportunity to go out and show that we are the better team at the end of the day.”

Saturday’s all-important game at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit kicks off at 17:00. – MORGAN PIEK