Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Cheetahs target Currie Cup semi-final berth against Pumas

The Cheetahs will have to improve on their recent showings against the Pumas who have won their last three meetings.

The Cheetahs will be aiming to secure a home semi-final when they take on the Pumas in their vital Currie Cup clash at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday evening (kick-off 5pm).

Just under a month ago the Cheetahs were flying high at the top of the Currie Cup log and well on course to secure top spot, but they have since gone on a run of two losses and a draw which has seen the Sharks move ahead of them.

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However a win over the third on the log Pumas in Mbombela will secure second place ahead of next weekend’s final round of pool fixtures, while still giving them a chance of moving back above the Sharks.

“I feel we need to get a home semi-final. We are good enough to do that and that’s the mission for this weekend. We need at least four points out of the game. That will secure us a home semi-final and we won’t be satisfied with anything less,” said Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie.

“We know what to expect from them. The Pumas are a dangerous side, especially from turn overs. They like to keep the ball alive, they have a good kicking game as well as a very good defensive system.

“So it will be a big challenge but we are up for it. We know what we have to do to win the game.”

Improved showing

The Cheetahs will however have to improve on their recent showings against the competition defending champs, with the Pumas having won their last three meetings, including earlier this season in Bloemfontein.

The Pumas will also be well aware that a loss will open the door for the chasing pack to catch up to them on the log, so they will be desperate to win the game.

“We would like to rectify our (recent) record over the Pumas. They have improved a hell of a lot over the past three years and they are the defending champions. So we respect them, but we want to turn the tables on them this weekend,” said Fourie.

“So it does put a bit more pressure on us. But there is enough pressure on this game with regards to the log. Seven teams are still in it with two (pool) games to go, so there is pressure on all seven of us to qualify for the semi-finals.

“We have prepared well. We know what we want to do and we know what we need to improve on. If we can do that I am confident that we will be able to beat them in Nelspruit. But we know it is not going to be easy.”