The Cheetahs are targeting the Blues at the set-piece this Saturday in an attempt to limit the Kiwis’ formidable back division.
The Blues beat the Lions 55-10 is a very loose game of rugby, and even though the visitors weren’t great in the set phases they ran in seven tries. The Cheetahs boast more structure than the Lions, and despite being one of the lesser franchises are well respected for their forward play. This could be the key to an upset at Vodacom Park.
“We’ll have to kick far better and make our first time tackles. But if you look at the Lions game, the Blues lost nine line-outs. It’s a an area we’ll definitely look to target this weekend,” Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie told keo.co.za.
The Cheetahs by comparison are in fine line-out form, and should Naka Drotske keep the same side who lost to the Force Adriaan Strauss should have Barend Pieterse, Heinrich Brussouw, Duanne Vermeulen and Juan Smith to aim at. Rory Duncan, who led the Currie Cup side last season, has not only established himself as a grafting lock-forward, but as a premier line-out option as well.
Fourie admitted the Blues pose more of a threat at scrum time. The visitors could field an All Blacks front row in Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and John Afoa. Wian Du Preez, Strauss and Kobus Calldo will have their hands full in Bloemfontein.
But if the Cheetahs pack can withstand the Blues surge in the tight, the so-called superhuman Kiwis are a very susceptible side at the tackle points when the don’t have momentum.
“The Blues have a very good scrum but they rely heavily on first phase possession,” said Fourie. “If they don’t make the first break, they do concede turnovers at the breakdown, so our job will be too compete well at scrum time and close down the space afforded to their backs.”
Brussouw and Vermuelen have proved their worth in the Currie Cup while Smith is a vital cog in the Boks’ back row. Kabamba Floors will also have a part to play when he comes on, but much will be expected of the starting loose forwards to ensure the Cheetahs stay in touch in the first period.
By Jon Cardinelli