Cheetahs learned from last year's playoff disappointment against the Pumas

FILE - Free State Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images via BackpagePix

FILE - Free State Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images via BackpagePix

Published Jun 20, 2023


Cape Town — The Cheetahs have learned lessons from last year's semi-final heartache against the Pumas in Bloemfontein and will be looking to turn the tables on the defending champions come Saturday's final.

Hawies Fourie, Cheetahs coach, said they will have to be sharp on the attack to back up the efforts of their pack of forwards if they want to come out trumps in the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein (kickoff 4:00 PM).

After defeating the Free State side in the City of Roses last year in the semis, they traveled to Kimberley and beat the Griquas in the final to become champions.

They now stand between Fourie and his Cheetahs in their quest to claim the title.

"Our forwards dominated in that game, and we would hope it happens again," Fourie said ahead of the catfight.

"The Pumas possess a strong pack, and it won't be easy. They are physical and defend well. You don't find momentum and quick possession that easy at the breakdown when you face them. The focus will be to clean those breakdowns with speed, gather quick possession and attack the space.

"The forwards will bring their side again, and with Ruan (Pienaar) and Siya (Masuku, who will play off the bench), we have two good kickers that can put pressure on them from the back."

Fourie wants to see his side sharpen up on their discipline too because he knows that the Pumas' kickers will punish them if they give away penalties unnecessarily.

The Cheetahs coach added that it was good to get a win over the defending champions this season, especially in Mbombela where they are a formidable side, but it won't count for much come Saturday.

According to him, both teams start on a clean slate come the first kickoff.

"Both sides will have a plan to win the match, and winning will depend on how well you can execute those plans. The Pumas are a difficult side, and they bring a lot to a match.

"They have a very good offload game, they counter-attack really well, and have a good kicking game with Tinus (de Beer) and Devon (Williams) who are left- and right-footed kickers. It makes it difficult.

"They also have a strong pack of forwards, so they can bring different things to a match, and I expect them to be as physical as we know they can be.

"There is a lot to play for for us, there will be a lot of pressure on both teams. They are the defending champions, and the pressure will be to retain the cup.

"We will definitely give 100% to try and win it. We let ourselves down last year."


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