Cheetahs hungry for fourth win

2015-09-23 06:00
OFFENSIVE: Raymond Rhule of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs runs with the ball in his hands as he attacks the Griquas’ backs last Saturday. 

Mlungisi Louw

OFFENSIVE: Raymond Rhule of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs runs with the ball in his hands as he attacks the Griquas’ backs last Saturday. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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THE Free State Cheetahs aim to achieve only their fourth victory of this year’s Absa Currie Cup competition when hosting the Golden Lions in the Free State Stadium on Saturday (26/09) afternoon.

The hosts have already won three matches this season against Griquas (twice) and Western Province, while they have also lost four games to the Blue Bulls (twice), Western Province and Eastern Province Kings.

The Cheetahs ous-ted Griquas by 44-24 at the same venue last weekend.

Franco Smith’s charges would need to perform at a high level to register their second win on the trot in as many weeks.

The Lions have won all their seven matches so far and they are sitting on top of the log with 33 points.

They will be hoping to make it eight out of eight in terms of wins in the competition.

The Cheetahs are placed fourth on the log with 17 points and they will be going all out for maximum points.

Johan Ackermann, Lions coach, feels they still have to make some improvements despite their near-perfect record in this year’s Currie Cup competition.

The Johannesburg side tightened their grip atop the standings with a 26-18 victory over the Sharks at Ellis Park over the weekend.

Ackermann believes little separates the sides in this year’s competition.

He said they had to be careful of complacency in their final three matches before the start of the playoffs.

“The teams are le-vel and if you don’t have the right attitude you can get yourself into trouble,” Ackermann said.

“The guys (Lions players) are playing well, but if you look at the small things we miss, we need to make improvements.”

Although the Lions only held a three-point lead going into the half-time break, the Sharks did little to threaten the home side.

It was only in the final five minutes of the match that the coastal side kicked into gear which was too little too late.

The Lions had a few scoring opportunities in the first half which could have taken the game away from the visitors had they converted it into points.

“The opportunities were there, but we just need to use them more patiently.

“The Sharks fought hard and they were good in that first half,” Ackermann said.

“We felt much more in control than the score may suggest.

“We knew playing at altitude, if we kept the tempo up, the match would swing in our favour.”

Ackermann said while he was tempted to give some players a rest, he would only do that once they had secured a home semi-final.

“I try to rotate wherever I can. I have done so with the loose forwards and the props.

“But we are not there yet.

“We need one or two more victories to really know we have a home semi-final,” he said.

“We will wait and see where the other teams are on the log.

“But now we do have some comfort to rotate players, but you also don’t want to break the continuity that we have built.”

The Cheetahs will announce their squad for Saturday’s match on Wednesday (23/09).

The Lions team will be announced on Thursday (24/09).

Kick-off in Bloemfontein is scheduled for 13:00

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