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Cheetahs pay dear price for historic Euro win

REACTION: The Cheetahs have paid a dear price for their impressive come-from-behind 21-16 win over Section Paloise in a Challenge Cup Round One outing in Pau at the weekend.

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Despite his obvious joy at winning on their debut in Europe, Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie has some serious injury concerns in the team.

The Cheetahs showed composure and maturity to overcome a 3-9 half-time deficit and win at the Stade du Hameau in Pau.

Clément Mondinat and Ruan Pienaar exchanged penalties, before two further Mondinat penalties gave the French team a 9-3 halftime lead.

After the break, the Cheetahs settled down, with a Daniel Maartens try early in the second half putting the Cheetahs ahead.

It sparked the home side into life and a Rémi Sénéca score restored their lead, which they kept despite powerful flank Teboho Mohojé charging over, as Pienaar pushed the conversion an inch wide.

But Pienaar kicked the Cheetahs back into the lead before being substituted, with flyhalf Siyamthanda Masuku kicking another penalty to give the visitors the victory as Pau’s ill-discipline ultimately cost them.

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Fourie revealed that veteran Springbok Frans Steyn, who started at fullback, pulled a hamstring.

He was replaced by Robert Ebersohn at the 50-minute mark.

It was a huge setback,” Fourie said, adding: “He was vital for our kicking game and the game we wanted to employ.”

Loose forwards Friedle Olivier (cut on the nose) and Jeandrè Rudolph (cut on the eye socket) also required medical attention.

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Fourie is “hopeful” that the injured players will be available for the Round Two encounter with Scarlets at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, in Parma, this coming Saturday.

However, the two-time World Cup-winning Bok, Steyn, is the most doubtful of the trio – having overcome similar hamstring issues earlier this year.

At 35, the 78-times capped utility back’s recovery is usually a bit slower than his more youthful teammates.

(Article continues below the Hawies Fourie interview …)

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Despite not being clinical enough, the coach was full of praise for the “character” shown by the players to overcome the half-time deficit and secure the win against Pau this past weekend.

“There was an urgency in the team to get a win first up and it would have required a special effort to upstage this [Cheetahs] team,” the coach said in his post-match reaction.

The coach was also happy with the team’s defence and their ball retention in the second half.

“We had some luck as well. The referee could have penalised us at that last ruck.

“We are grateful for that call, which went our way.”

Having travelled for 28 hours, from Bloemfontein to Pau last week, and a dramatic drop in temperatures – from 30°C to sub-zero at game time, it required true grit to pull off the win.

“Daniel Maartens had a massive impact when he came on,” the coach said of the try-scoring loose forward, replacing the injured Jeandrè Rudolph in the 35th minute.

Apart from his try, he also won a number of turnovers at the breakdown.

Friedle Olivier is another loose forward who grew in stature as the game progressed and impressed the coach.

Frans Steyn, before his injury, and flyhalf Siyabonga Masuku both got good value for the visitors out of their kicking games.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

 

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