Preview: Cheetahs vs Force
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské will be hoping his team shows more commitment on defence when they host the Western Force at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.
Last weekend the Cheetahs missed too many tackles in their 36-33 defeat to the Highlanders, especially in the last 25 minutes, when the visitors were behind by 30-9.
A week earlier, the Free Staters conceded five tries as they lost 39-33 to the Chiefs. Even in their impressive Round Six victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington (47-38), the Cheetahs conceded four tries.
This weekend they are playing one of the teams with the least number of tries scored thus far this season.
The Force have only scored 17, the same number as the Reds, and more than the Stormers (16), the Blues (15), and the Rebels and Lions (12 each).
Even though the Force have not been the most prolific try-scorers in 2012, the Cheetahs will not take Saturday’s match lightly.
“By this time we all know there is no such thing as a good or a bad side,” said Drotske.
“The Force showed last weekend against the Stormers that they have a good defensive pattern and that they can attack. They are a very physical team and if we want to win, we’ll have to be 100% switched on.
“In the last 20 to 30 minutes last week, some players made individual errors on the defence that cost us. This week we’ve worked very hard at eradicating those mistakes.”
Key Battle: Heinrich Brussow vs. David Pocock. Head-to-head battles don’t come much bigger than this as two of the world’s best fetchers collide in a crucial contest for possession.
Last Meeting: Cheetahs 29-14 Western Force (Bloemfontein).
Prediction: This is a match to lose for the Cheetahs rather than one to win by the Force. After a record-breaking tour, a loss at home to the lowly Force would be a major disappointment for the Cheetahs.
The hosts would have learnt from last weekend’s spectacular slip-up and they won’t easily be reeled in again on Saturday. The Force will thus need a strong start to pile on the pressure and land a psychological blow.
The Cheetahs, however, should be able to weather the storm and close the match out to return to the winners circle. Cheetahs by eight points.
Saturday 5 May: Cheetahs vs. Western Force, Bloemfontein (19:10)
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Philip Snyman
Western Force: 15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Samu Wara, 13 Nick Cummins, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 David Harvey, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Matt Hodgson, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Salesi Manu, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Lachlan McCaffrey, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Ben Seymour, 22 Rory Sidey.