Having finished their Vodacom Super 14 tour on a relative high in Hamilton, the Cheetahs aim to claim at least 12 log points from their final three home matches against the Blues, Force and Cats.
Rassie Erasmus’s side fought their way back from a 20-3 deficit to lose 33-32 to the Chiefs, taking two log points from the match. It was an encouraging performance following 50-point drubbings in Canberra and Christchurch and has given the Bloemfontein boys a confidence boost heading into the business end of the competition.
“If we can win our remaining home matches, we’ll happy with our overall season,” Erasmus told Rapport. “There are other teams who haven’t won as many matches as us, so we can’t complain. But we have set ourselves high standards and won’t be satisfied unless we get 12 points from the next three games.”
Those 12 points would take the Cheetahs to a respectable 32, and should ensure they finish in the top half of the competition.
Erasmus admitted the Super 14 had been a learning curve for him and his players. “Super 14 rugby and Currie Cup rugby are two totally different things. It’s like playing tennis on grass and clay. The one is much faster than the other and you can’t make mistakes in the Super 14.”
The Cheetahs face the Blues on Saturday, just days after flying back to South Africa. However, while jet lag may play a role, the Sharks’ convincing victory against the Reds – achieved after they returned from a five-week overseas tour – will give the Cheetahs hope.
Key loose forwards Juan Smith and Hendro Scholtz will also be back for the Blues game. Smith missed the overses tour with a knee injury picked up against the Reds, while Scholtz has played five matches for the Vodacom Cup side after hurting his shoulder in the Currie Cup final last year.