Cheetahs stay true to game plan

Free State pivot Willem de Waal confirmed on Friday that the Absa Currie Cup champions have no intention of changing their tactics.

The Vodacom Cheetahs were criticised after last week’s 20-13 loss in Cape Town for being too conservative in their backline. But there will be no compensating for that against the Pumas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

“When it started raining at Newlands last week, we tried to play the conservative game,” De Waal told “But it was always going to be hard after being 14-0 down. Playing catch-up is never easy.

“Against the Pumas, we will be sticking to the same game plan that we have used the whole season.”

Coach Rassie Erasmus has stated previously that it was important for his team to get their structures right early on, and then build from there. It worked in the first three matches with the Cheetahs amassing over 150 points, and one loss is not going to facilitate any rash changes.

“We are going to look to control the ball and focus on the things that we do well,” explained De Waal. “If we can get enough ball in their half, we will have a go.”

A number of first choice players have been rested for this encounter which gives Erasmus and his coaching staff a chance to see what they have in reserve.

“It’s a great opportunity to let a few of the other guys show their worth. It’s good to see a guy like Quinton Davids getting his first start, while guys like Barend (Pieterse) can have a well-earned rest.”

The Sharks were rattled last week in their loss to Griquas, after Dick Muir persisted on playing his second-stringers against one of the ‘lesser’ sides of the competition. De Waal believes that there is enough of the old guard around to ensure they don’t suffer a similar fate at the hands of the Pumas.

“I don’t think that we will lose any momentum by giving these guys a chance,” De Waal said. “We still have enough senior players in the team who know the game plan, and we should bounce back against the Pumas.”

By Jon Cardinelli