Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Cheetahs out to prove they belong against Scarlets in Challenge Cup

So far the Bloemfontein-based side have beaten French team Pau 21-16, but then lost 45-26 against Scarlets, and they will be looking to improve in the return fixtures.

The Cheetahs are out to prove that they belong playing at the highest level of European rugby, as they prepare to take on Scarlets in their Challenge Cup match at the Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli on Friday night.

The Bloemfontein based side had been left in the rugby wilderness a few years ago after they lost their place in the Pro 14 (now United Rugby Championship), leaving them without an international club rugby competition to play in.

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However they then received an invitation to play in this seasons Challenge Cup competition, which coach Hawies Fourie wants to make sure that they make the most of.

So far they have beaten French side Pau 21-16, but then lost 45-26 against Scarlets, and they will be looking to improve in the return fixtures against both sides over the next two weeks.

“We haven’t achieved anything yet. We won our first game and lost our second by quite a big margin. Our goal is to try and qualify for the top 16 (knockouts), which are still a way to go for us,” explained Fourie.

“In my opinion we need at least five log points from the next two games to get into the top 16. But anything can happen.

“If we get into the top 16 I would say it has been a successful campaign for us. The most important thing for me as the coach of the team was to prove that we are worthy of playing in this competition.”

Invitational team

Fourie continued: “We are an invitational team. So we wanted to prove that we belong in international rugby and that first win against Pau was very crucial in showing everyone that we are still on par, even though we haven’t played at the international level for about three years now.

“It is difficult to make that step-up and play at a higher level, with higher intensity and a quicker game. You have to adapt, but I think we have proven that we belong here. If we don’t achieve our goal of making the round of 16 we won’t be satisfied.”

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Challenge Cup Cheetahs rugby team Hawies Fourie