Cheetahs heavies have the edge

Former Springbok prop Robbie Kempson believes the Vodacom Cheetahs will have too much firepower in their pack for the Vodacom Bulls.

Kempson acknowledged the improved performance of the Bulls forwards since the return of their Springboks, but maintained that the Bloemfontein outfit would have the edge in what he predicts to be a forward-orientated game.

“I’m backing the Cheetahs because they’ve been the leader in all facets of forward play over the course of the season,” he told Keo.co.za. “They have a good mix of players who are not superstars but work very well in combination.”

He was also forthright in his assessment of how important forward dominance for either side would be.

“The winner of the battle up front will determine the winner outright, there’s no question of that,” he asserted. “Finals are generally tight, conservative affairs and I expect this one to be no different.

“The Cheetahs have some phenomenal individuals at scrum time,” he added. “Together with BJ Botha [Sharks prop], Jannie du Plessis [Cheetahs prop] is the best scrummager in South Africa at the moment, and Jaco Engels will really struggle against him. There’s also this perception that Ollie le Roux is not a strong scrummager, but I can tell you that’s a fallacy. He is very shrewd, and technically brilliant,” he explained.

Kempson added that the first couple of scrums would be key to establishing the mental ascendency but cautions that the potential loss of Willem De Waal to injury would be a major blow to the Cheetahs, as the prolific points scorer had capitalised on the solid attacking platform which his pack had established throughout the competition.

“De Waal will be a significant loss for the Cheetahs if he has to sit out. His boot will be key both from a tactical and goal kicking point of view.”

Kempson however acknowledged that the Pretoria outfit could dominate the loose exchanges and highlighted the ability of Pierre Spies as decisive in this regard.

“Their loose trio is unbelievably quick and are strong ball carriers. Pierre is a complete footballer and has attributes that other loosies in this country don’t have,” Kempson gushed. “He will have to be outstanding for the Bulls to stand a chance but I’m sure Rassie has done his homework on ways to nullify him.”

Home ground advantage was a crucial factor according to Kempson, as was the fact that many of the current Cheetahs squad played in the 2005 final at Loftus.

“The Cheetahs won’t be apprehensive about playing in the final because they’ve been there before and any nerves the young players might have will be sorted out by the experienced players.

“All the signs point to a Cheetahs win.”

By Ryan Vrede