Cape Town - Cheetahs utility back William Small-Smith predicted a “fast, attacking” game of rugby for the return PRO14 derby match against the Southern Kings this weekend, rejecting talk of bad blood between the two sides.
Small-Smith sidestepped Kings’ coach Robbie Kempson’s promise of a physical battle in Bloemfontein on Saturday after complaining about off-ball incidents in the first derby game, which the Cheetahs nail-bitingly won 31-30 last week.
Now, with the clash moving to Bloemfontein, there is plenty on the line for both sides, but especially the Cheetahs, who will want to add five points to their quest for the playoffs.
“We all heard the coach after the game, and perhaps it is a plan behind it or something that he wants to get into our heads, so if we are going to focus too much on that, it takes the focus off what you want to do,” Small-Smith said.
“From our side, we are playing at home, and we want to play an open, fast and exciting brand of rugby. We will do our stuff well and not really worry about they are going to do.”
Small-Smith said the last-gasp win in Port Elizabeth acted like an elixir for the Cheetahs side after a few tough weeks on the road, and it would spur them on to better things at home.
“It’s amazing what a one point difference can make in a changeroom. After the Connacht game we feel we should have won but we didn’t and then after this game you feel you were lucky to win but you got five points,” he added.
“I think we do believe in what we do and one another. Obviously we want to play better rugby, we want to execute better and play better, we don’t want it to be a one-point game, but sometimes you need the one-point games to have the 30 or 40 point games later on in the season.
“If you think back in the first PRO14 season we won a scrum penalty right in the end and the next game we lost it because the ref didn’t want to give a scrum penalty at the end. That bonus point we got was enough to get s into the playoffs. The one-pointers here and there eventually put you in a position to be where you want to be.
“From the player’s point of view, we want to do better, play better and not make it a one-point game in the 82nd minute, but a comfortable win.”Small-Smith also praised the Kings for their improvement over the season, saying the challenges they had faced were different to the Cheetahs and they had done well in developing a team over the course of the season.
“I think they are a lot better. Remember the Kings’ challenge is different to ours and the Super Rugby teams because they don’t play in the Currie Cup. Their build-up and preparation is against each other and then a club side or two before they play their first game where we have a Currie Cup to prepare for the PRO14.
“Their coaching appointment was later and it was unfortunate. That said the talent and their contracting was very good. They are fighting hard and they have a clear plan of what they want to do on the field. They’ve also learnt a couple of hard lessons, so they are a lot better. Just take their win over the Stormers in Knysna as an example.”
The game kicks off at 5pm and will be live on Supersport.
- PRO14 media