Cheetahs in unknown territory ahead of Toulon clash
REACTION: Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie’s admission regarding Toulon could sound very concerning to the Bloemfontein faithful.
The Cheetahs booked themselves a place in the Challenge Cup Round of 16 with a 9-6 win over Pau on Sunday in Italy.
It was a case of a must-win encounter for both teams as they were playing for a spot in the knockout round of the tournament.
However, an overtime penalty by Siya Masuku made sure the Cheetahs eliminated Pau and grabbed the last spot in the playoffs.
The result means that Cheetahs will travel to France to face Top 14 side Toulon in the Round of 16.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Fourie admitted he has little knowledge of the Toulon side and also revealed his team have a lot of areas to fix ahead of the encounter scheduled to take place over the weekend of March 31 – April 2
“We don’t really know the French players, we know the Scarlets players really well because we played against them during the Pro14 [now the United Rugby Championship],” Fourie said.
“But the French players are fairly unknown, Toulon has a few well-known players that play for the France national team, so they could be unavailable due to the Six Nations.
“However, we have to focus on ourselves and have to improve our game plan.
“There are loads of places where we can do better.”
‘The sweet strike’
Cheetahs’ performance during the narrow win on Sunday amplified their shortcomings.
The Bloemfontein side lacked creativity on attack and it was clear that they missed the experience of lof Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn and Oupa Mohoje
Nonetheless, there was a silver lining in the form of Masuku.
The No.10 stepped up when it was needed and Fourie had massive praise for the flyhalf’s ‘sweet strike’.
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“It was quite a long-distance kick, and it was a bit dewy, so the ball was a bit wet and heavier than normal. But that was a sweet strike,” Fourie said.
“That’s why you practice and put in the hours when the other guys sit next to the field or are back on the bus, and you continue to kick at goal. That’s the reward you get as a kicker.
“I thanked him for that kick – he made a few mistakes with the penalties that he didn’t kick out, but I have forgiven him for that.”
Regarding the injuries, Fourie revealed that most of the players including Pienaar, Steyn and Mohoje will be ready for the next Challenge Cup match
The Cheetahs will take a much-needed break before returning to training on February 6.