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Cheetahs caught between two game plans

NEWS: The Cheetahs are holding onto their top spot on the Currie Cup log for dear life but cracks have started showing and assistant coach Charl Strydom says the side is currently caught between two game plans. 

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The Freestaters have lost their last two Currie Cup outings – against the Lions (26-33) and last weekend against the Sharks (23-35) – and have only won two out of their last five games. 

Strydom says the side wanted to have more of an attacking flair after coming back from the European conditions the Challenge Cup posed. 

“The big emphasis for us preparing for the European conditions was that we knew we had to change our game to more of a kicking defence orientated game which is something we did really well when we qualified for the last sixteen,” the defense coach explained. 

“Once we came back, we wanted to have more of an attacking flair, which is something Free State rugby is all about. But I think we are caught between the two at the moment.”

He explained that the Cheetahs are having a go from the wrong places on the field.

“Heading towards perhaps play-offs, it’s a tightly contested log and we have to get the game right. We’ve got to find a balance between the two.

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“We thought we were better prepared for that game in Durban and we weren’t, so it was a reality check for us as coaches as well going into the next games.”

“Our last four games have been in the wet, and we were disappointed in the way we did our business. The result is what it is. We thought with the experience we picked up in Europe playing in those wet conditions, it would’ve suited us well. But we got the tactics wrong totally. 

“It was something we talked about at half-time. We played into the Sharks’ hands. Two of the tries they scored came from two little chip kicks that we tried in wet conditions.”

The Cheetahs host Griquas at home in Bloemfontein on Saturday knowing the men from Kimberley will be desperate for a win to remain in contention for a spot among the top four. 

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“This time last year we had our biggest defeat ever against Griquas in Kimberley. Physically they were all over us, dominating from every contact point and we were just on the back-foot the whole time. I think our physical game has improved. Last weekend it was the first time we conceded a bonus point try in the Currie Cup.”

Strydom says Griquas are playing really well at the moment. “They have those strike runners that can hurt you. They are especially good with turn-over, so if it becomes a kicking game, we’ve got to be sharp. We know if you give Speccies (Rosko Specman) space, what he can do to you.

“If you look at what they are doing at the moment, they are playing a really good brand of rugby. They play with a lot of width and they keep the ball really well for phases.”

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