Do or die for Cheetahs

Free State Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie says victory against Griquas in Bloemfontein this Saturday is non-negotiable.

Free State find themselves at the bottom of the Currie Cup log after their 34-30 loss to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria last weekend. It was their fourth consecutive defeat of the campaign.

However, the Cheetahs still have an outside chance of qualifying for the semi-finals as they trail the Bulls (fifth) and Griquas (fourth) by one and three log points respectively. A big victory over the Kimberley union will put Free State back into play-off contention.

The Cheetahs downed Griquas 29-16 at GWK Park in the second round.

‘While it was disappointing to go down against the Bulls, the losing bonus point helped a lot,’ Fourie told keo.co.za. ‘We still stand a chance of finishing in the top four, so we can’t afford any more mistakes.

‘We have to beat Griquas this weekend. It’s going be tough, as they’ll also need a win to keep their semi-final hopes alive.’

Fourie said Free State are struggling with form because of the loss of key players.

‘We have 14 players missing at the moment, so our squad is looking quite thin’ said Fourie. ‘Many of those players are experienced guys. WP Nel [Edinburgh, Scotland] and Ashley Johnson [London Wasps, England] were big losses after Super Rugby. We also have a lot of injuries as the likes of Frans Viljoen and Kabamba Floors are sidelined.

‘So we’re playing with a young team. But they are doing better and better every week. We just need to get back to winning ways this weekend.’

By Gareth Duncan