The Cheetahs aim for better attack and ball retention

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MORGAN PIEK

Bloemfontein – The pressure will be on both the Toyota Cheetahs and the Hurricanes when the two sides clash at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

With the Hurricanes at the bottom of the log following three losses and the Cheetahs in 13th place with only one win from four outings, both sides will be desperate for a win.

Speaking to COURANT Sport from the New Zealand capital city, coach Naka Drotské said: “We’ve seen in the past there’s no such thing as an easy game in this competition, but we need to turn it around.”

“We managed to win against the Hurricanes here two years ago. It’s not an easy game, it’s never easy to win in New Zealand, but we need to focus on our own game and improve. At this stage we don’t play well and we need to turn it around,” he added.

With the Cheetahs facing Kiwi opponents in the next four games, there is pressure on the side to return to winning ways.

“There will be pressure on both sides’; they will want to return to winning ways just as much as we’d want to. The most important thing for us is to go out and focus on what we want to do. We’ve got to be more clinical and we’ve got to be more accurate. In the last few games we did not do that, so it’s really important that we get back to the level of play we want to obtain,” said Drotské.

The Bloemfontein-based side still lead the stats in the “Running Metres” department with flyers like Raymond Rhule, Willie le Roux and Cornal Hendricks in their ranks. However, going hand-in-hand with that stat is the “Handling Errors” count…which they also lead.

The side will be aiming to convert these metres gained into points.

“That is exactly what we need to do. We get the momentum, but we can’t keep the ball for more than three or four phases. We have too many unforced errors, bad skills, where we lose 50/50 passes. We need to get back to basics where we protect the ball better for five, six or seven phases,” he said.

“If we can do that, we will score tries, at this stage we can’t do that so that’s what we need to focus on this week,” he added.

The Cheetahs’ attack has been putting a lot of pressure on their defence, due to them protecting the ball and Drotské wants that to change as well. His side has made 530 tackles in the competition thus far and the sheer amount of the pressure that created has seen 82 missed tackles.

“We put a lot of pressure on our defensive system with the way we attack and keep the ball, because of the fact that we don’t look after our ball and turn it over after four or five phases” said Drotské.

“All of a sudden we’ve got to defend for 70% of the time, and obviously no team can do that. I think if we sort our attack our defence will also be a lot better.

The Cheetahs will finalise their side for the weekend’s match tomorrow and a few changes can be expected.

Winger Raymond Rhule has recovered from his ankle injury which saw him miss the match against the Reds in Brisbane. Should Rhule return, Drotské said Willie le Roux will slot back into fullback.

Scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius could possibly get a start ahead of Shaun Venter who will be rotated.

On the injury front, the side only have Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen side-lined after sustaining a neck injury against the Melbourne Rebels, which saw him return home. Oosthuizen is expected to be out of commission anywhere between six and eight weeks.

Saturday’s match at the “Cake Tin” kicks off at 5:25am (South African time).

The possible side to face the Hurricanes – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (Captain) 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.

Replacements –
16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Ligtoring Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Rayno Benjamin.