Cheetahs boosted by Golden Goosen

Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie says the return of pivot Johan Goosen will be key in the semi-final clash against the Sharks on Saturday.

The 19-year-old flyhalf has enjoyed a stellar campaign since making his senior debut for the Cheetahs in their 64-17 victory over the Leopards. His current goal kicking record reads 30 from 31 attempts in the competition, a success rate of 97%. He has impressed with his tactical kicking too, has been pivotal in the Cheetahs’ attack and is also solid on defence. Fourie confirmed Goosen will start against the Sharks this Saturday after sitting out the past two weeks with a head injury.

‘His goal kicking has been excellent. He’s also very accurate at slotting drop goals, which could be useful this coming weekend. We will need to keep our score tally ticking against the Sharks,’ Fourie told keo.co.za. ‘Johan’s overall game has also been good. He spearheads the backline well and has ability to break the opposition’s defence.

‘Our plan for him for this year was to give him experience with the U21s for the first half of the campaign, then slowly draft him into the senior squad from the bench. But since his display against the Leopards, it’s hard to leave him out. Sias has been outstanding for us during Super Rugby, but his form has dipped in the Currie Cup. He’s still been vital for us off the bench though.

‘That said, it will take a team effort to achieve victory. We are very happy with our attack [the Cheetahs have scored the most points and tries in the league stage of the tournament] and we will need to pick up on our defensive game heading into the semi-final. We’ve conceded too many tries in the last 15 to 10 minutes of the match, which has proved costly this season.’

While Goosen has been impressive, the Cheetahs forwards have been instrumental in the team’s success by setting the platform for their backline. Fourie said that the Cheetahs’ heavies will have to produce a strong showing against the Sharks’ Bok-laden pack.

‘The Sharks’ Boks will definitely be a factor this weekend. I think they’ll start all of them instead of playing them off the bench like they did against the Lions,’ said Fourie.

‘The Sharks played really last weekend. Their main source of momentum came through their forwards. They dominated the scrums and had regular front foot ball. The Lions had some attacking ball to work with, but they couldn’t score any tries as they were always on the back foot.

‘We will need to mark and restrict the Sharks’ primary ball carriers, like Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Jean Deysel. Our forwards will have to front up and set the platform for the win. [Loose forwards] Lappies Labuschagne, who’s another young player who’s enjoying a dream debut season, and Ashley Johnson will be important in that battle. We also have Boom Prinsloo back from his sevens duties.

‘We’ve proved in previous Super Rugby and Currie Cup campaigns that we can beat the Sharks in Durban. Even with their Springboks.’

Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Cameron Jacobs, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Philip van der Walt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Johan Wessels, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Nico Scheepers.

By Gareth Duncan

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