Cheetahs' readiness under the spotlight ahead of Euro task
REACTION: Returning to the European stage is set to be a very demanding challenge for the Cheetahs.
The Bloemfontein side will compete in this season’s European Challenge Cup along with fellow South African side the Lions.
The Cheetahs have been preparing for the gruelling task with matches against international opposition in the South African Challenge Series.
The Cheetahs opened their Challenge Series with a win over Bulls, followed by a defeat to Emerging Ireland.
However, they bounced back with a 53-25 win over the United States Falcons in Bloemfontein at the weekend.
The win is certainly a boost ahead of the final Series match against Griquas, however, Cheetahs captain Victor Sekekete admitted there is major work-on ahead of the opening Challenge Cup games against French outfit Pau and Welsh region Scarlets.
The Cheetahs return to Europe following their axing from the Pro14 (now United Rugby Championship) in 2020.
“At the moment I would give us a rating of three out of five because we need to fix our game management,” Sekekete said when asked about the team’s readiness for Europe.
“We saw what we can do when we have the ball in hand, so the only thing that is holding us back is our game management.”
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Trailing 17-20 at the break, the Cheetahs were forced to dig deep.
However, the team scored four tries in the second half and secured a win.
“It was a much better performance than last week [against Emerging Ireland],” said head coach Hawies Fourie said.
“We started off well then overplayed our hand and we struggled to get out of our half.
“The game was very weird regarding the referee’s performance. We conceded seven penalties and only won one compared to the second half where we were awarded 11 penalties and only conceded four.
“It seems like it was one half for one team and the second for the other team.
“Stuff like that breaks the team’s momentum, but the second half was much better.”