- The Cheetahs' decision not to reschedule their postponed meeting with the Lions was arguably the right one for their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign.
- Yet while they keep their own destiny in their hands, the conditioning and mental consequences of an unintended two-week break could make their trip to Durban very awkward.
- Head coach Hawies Fourie though insists that the central franchises is still fully invested in winning the tournament.
Earlier this week, the Cheetahs took a collective decision not to reschedule their Covid-struck Super Rugby Unlocked meeting with the Lions.
There was no suitable date available anyway and Hawies Fourie, head coach, also made the reasonable point that another fixture sandwiched between two already scheduled ones would place undue pressure on his charges in terms of workload.
Three games in eight days is tight in any book.
As a result, the central franchise has three remaining matches to try and finish top of the log without an unnecessary complication.
Yet there's snag in that argument going into Friday evening's game against the Sharks at Kings Park - the Cheetahs have been inactive for two weeks from a match fitness perspective as the Lions cancellation was followed by a bye.
15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Henco Venter (captain), 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Werner Kok
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Junior Pokomela (captain), 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais
Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Khutha Mchunu , 19 Oupa Mohoje , 20 Jeandre Rudolph, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Chris Smit
"This situation has become difficult," admitted Fourie.
"A bye is always something that can hurt you. We actually didn't have our best training session at the start of the week. In fact, Monday's session was quite poor.
"We've had to rectify it and it the other sessions went better."
In addition to the obvious conditioning consequences, there's also the intangible factors like the feeling of deflation after a stirring if narrow win over the high-flying Bulls and the prospect of a positive result at Ellis Park, only to have to return home a few hours before kick-off.
"That really took away momentum from us going into the bye week. We've lost it," said Fourie.
"But we know what we have to do. We have three games remaining, we're still in the running but Friday's game is now really important for us."
Indeed, it's bound to be an awkward trip for the Cheetahs as the Sharks look more at ease following a very good 42-19 victory over a Pumas team far more competitive than the scoreline suggested.
The plan though, hasn't changed.
"We've decided that we want to win Super Rugby Unlocked. That's our main goal. Then we'll focus on the Currie Cup, especially because log points are carried over," said Fourie.
"There's a trophy up for grabs. It might even be easier to win this competition because there are no playoffs."
Kick-off in Durban is at 19:00 on Friday.