Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
6 Jun 2022
7:46 am

‘It will be tough’: Cheetahs must fight for top spot in Currie Cup

Ross Roche

Despite their recent dip in form, the Cheetahs are odds-on favourites to finish top in the pool stages.

Cheetahs players during their Currie Cup match against the Pumas. Picture: Gallo Images

The Cheetahs have it all to do in the final pool round of the Currie Cup after they suffered their second shock loss of the competition, going down 29-28 to the Pumas in Bloemfontein over the weekend.

This meant back-to-back losses for the Free State side after they were given a thorough 46-18 hiding by Griquas in Kimberley the week before, and their expected backlash against the Pumas didn’t materialise as the visitors claimed an upset win to stay in the hunt for the semifinals.

The Cheetahs now have to beat the Bulls in their final home game with a full house of points and not allow them to pick up a bonus point, if they want to finish top of the Currie Cup log.

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“Back to back losses is not great. We’re still in with a chance… but it will be a tough ask and we have a lot of work to do,” said Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie.

“We conceded too many turnovers, we were loose in the beginning of the game, made some sloppy passes, conceded possession and gave the Pumas a sniff and they took it.

“So we have got plenty of work to do, but we will do it. There is enough at stake for us to be really motivated and to make a big step up over the next week.”

Despite their recent dip in form, the Cheetahs are odds-on to take top spot, as they prepare to face an understrength Bulls team whose main squad will travel to Ireland for the United Rugby Championship semifinal against Leinster on the same day.

Griquas, meanwhile, continued their resurgence as they picked up a brilliant come from behind 43-41 win over Western Province, all but sealing their place in the knockout stages.

Western Province stormed into a 35-7 lead after just 25 minutes, with Griquas then battling their way back and sneaking the win five minutes into extra time.

The result puts the Griquas on 31 points, five ahead of the Sharks and four ahead of the Pumas, meaning if they manage just one bonus point in their final pool game against the Pumas it will be enough to see them claim a spot in the semis.

In the other match at the weekend, the Lions picked up their second win of the Currie Cup to end their season on a high as they came from behind to beat the Sharks 38-32.

The Sharks led 22-14 at half-time, but were then overpowered by a strong Lions team in the second half as they slipped to defeat.

The home side picked up two vital bonus points, however, keeping them in the hunt for the knockouts, and if they can beat Western Province in their final pool match it will give them a good chance of sneaking back into the top four.