FILE - Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie. Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images via BackpagePix
FILE - Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie. Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images via BackpagePix

Cheetahs bonus-point win forces smile out of Hawies Fourie, but now for WP ‘semi-final’

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Dec 28, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - At halftime against the Sharks on Sunday, Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie would have been delighted that his team had all but secured victory with a 27-10 lead, based on a physically imposing effort from the forwards and Frans Steyn’s massive boot.

He wasn’t happy with the defence in the opening 40 minutes, calling it “close to shocking” as the Durban outfit cut the line almost at will – but they weren’t able to capitalise fully at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

The big goal, though, was the try bonus point, as that would keep the Free Staters in the hunt for a Currie Cup semi-final spot.

Fourie had to wait until the third minute after the final hooter sounded for the pivotal moment, when powerhouse loosehead prop Boan Venter dotted down for their fourth try to the Sharks’ one for a 37-10 triumph.

Asked if he jumped up and down with excitement, the normally reserved Fourie eked out a smile and said: “Hopefully there weren’t any cameras on us, the coaching staff! The last 20 minutes, we sent the message to the players that we need to score another try to get the bonus point, which was really vital for our campaign.

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“We missed out with that forward pass from Jeandré (Rudolph) to Rhyno (Smith), so that was devastating. To get it in the end was great, and we celebrated.

“It’s a fine balance with the rule of having to score three tries more than the opposition for the bonus point – defence is as important as attack.

“We really needed a win over a Super Rugby team. Up to now, we’ve only beaten the Bulls (of the Super teams), and it was important for me that we win this weekend. We didn’t prepare that well this week with all the disruptions, and it was important to play well for a full 80 minutes.

”And even when we were 14 or 13 on the field (due to two yellow cards in the second half), everybody stuck to the plan.”

The Cheetahs are now fifth on 26 log points, two behind the fourth-placed Sharks, with two league rounds to go before the semi-finals. They take on Western Province (second position with 31 points) in Bloemfontein on Saturday (7pm kickoff), and have it all to do to keep their hopes alive of defending their title.

“They have several Springboks in their team, but we all know if you have 15 guys who are on the same page, everybody’s motivated and they all believe in each other and in the plan, then you can go far,” Fourie said.

“We are looking forward to that match. These last four matches, as Carl (Wegner, captain) has said, are like semi-finals – if you lose, you are out. It stays the same for this weekend’s match, so we must win against WP and we will prepare well.

“The biggest thing that we need to improve is our defence. Even though we conceded just one try, the Sharks had a lot of opportunities in the first half. We will work hard on that, especially when we kick, to get into line quickly and make our one-on-one tackles.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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