Currie Cup final: Good vibe, confidence pleases Cheetahs coach

The Cheetahs are hunting a first title since 2019. PHOTO: Charle Lombard/Gallo Images

The Cheetahs will head into this weekend’s Currie Cup final against the defending champion, the Pumas, at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday full of confidence, thanks to a strong finish to their campaign which has created a positive vibe in the squad.

Last year the Cheetahs won nine straight games in the competition before faltering at the back end of the pool stage losing two of their last three games, which saw them go into the knockouts with poor momentum.

The Pumas then took advantage of this, having also beaten the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein by a point a few weeks earlier, to upset the favourites 38-35 in the semi-final on their way to an inaugural title.

‘Vibe is better’
This year, however, the Cheetahs had their blip a bit earlier in the season and enjoyed a stronger finish, which they take into Saturday’s grand finale.

“The vibe is a lot better than last year when we struggled towards the back end of the competition. We had a heavy loss against Griquas, and we lost by one point against the Pumas close to the semi-finals so our confidence was low,” explained Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie.

“This year it’s sort of the opposite. We went through a bad patch, had the draw against Griquas and then three wins in a row (to get to the final). So it helps a lot for the confidence and vibe in the camp.

“There is healthy competition in the playing and non-playing squads. Training has been going really well and everyone has bought into the squad effort which makes a big difference. So we have had some high quality sessions and that will help us towards the final.”

Fourie admitted that the Cheetahs have a few things to fix ahead of the showpiece match, despite a thumping 39-10 win over a United Rugby Championship-laden Bulls team in the semi-finals last weekend.

“I’d say about 70% of the game (against the Bulls) was really good. We made a few mistakes on attack. On defence we were lucky with that (Bulls) forward pass which could have been a turning point in the game and we conceded 15 penalties,” said Fourie.

“That is the main thing, we have to concede less penalties, as it gives the opposition (easy) entries into our 22m or shots at goal. So it will be vital to limit the penalty count this coming weekend.”

The Cheetahs will be attempting to win their first Currie Cup title since 2019 while the Pumas are aiming to go back to back and clinch a second ever title.

The Citizen/ Ross Roche