Cheetahs switching to 'Bulls mode'
REACTION: The Cheetahs cleared their first hurdle, but now they face a much tougher test – a Jake White-coached Bulls team.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie admitted the challenge will become a little testier this week – a short turnaround, from a Saturday game to a Friday outing, and a more accomplished opponent.
The Cheetahs started their campaign – by their own admission, a quest to retain the Currie Cup title – with a 53-31 bonus-point triumph over the Pumas in a Super Rugby Unlocked encounter in Bloemfontein.
The home side scored eight tries to four – six of those in a dazzling display of backline play in the first half, to lead 41-3 at the half-time break.
Fourie then made a raft of changes, admittedly to keep their powder dry for the Bulls encounter.
“Yes, we had the Bulls game in mind,” Fourie said, when asked about the many changes in the second half.
He said the short turnaround this week also influenced the decision.
The result was a more fractured performance from the Bloemfontein outfit after the break – with the Pumas outscoring their hosts by four tries to two and ‘winning’ the second half 28-12.
“After half-time, when we felt the game was in the bag, I started to make the replacements,” Fourie said, adding: “The guys that went onto the field played quite well, but as a team, we just made too many mistakes and our discipline let us down.”
The Cheetahs coach said they will have to be meticulous in their planning, given that the Bulls did give much away at the weekend.
The Bulls, playing with a raft of new signings and a new head coach in former Springbok mentor Jake White, had to fight real hard for their 30-23 win over a very gritty Griquas in their opening fixture of the season.
This follows their impressive demolition of the Sharks in the SuperFan pre-season outing a fortnight ago.
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“We will have to take a look at the weekend’s game,” Fourie said of the Bulls’ scratchy win over the men from Kimberley.
“We only saw their game against the Sharks [SuperFan day], where they had a blinder.
“I have analysed that game, but I will look at this weekend’s game and then we will decide on a plan for the game against them next week.
“I do not have that plan at this stage.
“Once we have had a look at this game [against Griquas], we will decide how to play, what we want to do and focus on that in our preparations.”
Cheetahs skipper Ruan Pienaar said his team will have to look at their set pieces in the build-up to the encounter with the Bulls.
“The breakdown is also an aspect of our game we will have to pay attention to.
“It was our first game,” he said of the win over the Pumas, adding: “We will look at the positives and move on.”