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Cheetahs successfully launch their odyssey in Challenge Cup

REACTION: Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie says it is vital to have good start in any competition you play in, and his side managed to do that with a fairly comfortable win over Zebre in Parma on Saturday.

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“In any competition you play it is important to start well and we managed to do that,” Fourie told the media from Parma.

Despite the bitterly cold weather, the Cheetahs managed to adapt well to the conditions which is a far cry from the heat in Bloemfontein.

“It was difficult to prepare for Zebre in Bloemfontein because of the difference in conditions, but I must compliment the players, they adapted really well.

“Luckily for us it didn’t rain but even if it rained, I felt that we were well enough prepared to adapt and play according to the conditions,” Fourie said.

“The forwards did a good job at set-piece again, they dominated there and we defended really well, putting a lot of pressure on them. They were not used to our line speed and Zebre made a lot of mistakes.”

Although the Cheetahs conceded too many penalties in the first half, Zebre flyhalf Tiff Eden only managed a lone penalty on a tough afternoon for the hosts.

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“In the first half I felt we conceded too many penalties, it was nine or 10 before half-time which is way too much. The second half was a lot better. We only conceded four penalties in the second half.

“But in the first half we were pegged in our own 22 for quite a long while, they had seven line-outs in our 22 and we had to defend their maul which we did well,” the coach said.

Fourie says the turning point of the game was the try that Cohen Jasper scored in that last 10 minutes before half-time.

“That gave us a bit of breathing space and then we got two penalties to get to 16-3 at half-time.

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“We had better discipline in the second half, less penalties and we could apply more pressure on Zebre. They had to play catch-up rugby, it was a bit disappointing to concede those last two tries but we went for the bonus-point try and took some chances which gave them an opportunity to score.

“That just shows the class of their team, they improved a lot since last year, beaten the Sharks here in Parma and played to a draw against Cardiff so it just shows you that they improved a lot.”

The Cheetahs host the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Sunday in their first EPRC game on home soil in two years.

“We will have a look at that and see how can adapt in the game against the Sharks. I haven’t seen their game yet, I will watch it today when we travel back. But they’ve beaten Pau by a big margin and they’ve got all their Springboks back so they will be a very tough team to take on next week Sunday.

“It is a big challenge for us to play against a team with a lot of Springboks and the quality they have, but that’s why you want to play in a competition like this, is to play against very good teams with big names to measure yourselves,” Fourie concluded.

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