Cheetahs forwards coach Corniel van Zyl. Photo:
Cheetahs forwards coach Corniel van Zyl. Photo:

Cagey Cheetahs keeping the Bulls guessing

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Oct 15, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Which version of the Cheetahs will turn out against the Bulls in Friday night’s Super Rugby Unlocked encounter in Bloemfontein?

It seems as if they are trying to catch the Bulls off-guard, when listening to what their forwards coach Corniel van Zyl had to say about the game at the Free State Stadium (7pm kick-off).

Some might say that there is only one kind of Cheetahs team – the one that ran the Pumas to pieces last week to the tune of 53-31.

They were up 41-3 by halftime, with their scintillating back-three of Clayton Blommetjies, Malcolm Jaer and Rosko Specman prominent, with Springbok veteran Frans Steyn adding a bit of bite in midfield.

But the Bulls shouldn’t ignore the fact that the Cheetahs forwards were also instrumental, with the likes of locks Carl Wegner (Man of the Match) and Walt Steenkamp, as well as flanks Andisa Ntsila and Junior Pokomela, and prop Luan de Bruin putting in the hard yards.

Add two wily mentors in head coach Hawies Fourie and forwards guru Corniel van Zyl, and you have all bases covered.

Former lock and lineout specialist Van Zyl, who represented Italy at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and is an institution at the Cheetahs, was cagey about his team’s approach on Friday.

“We would have to do last week’s first half twice against the Bulls. They bring other challenges, and it’s always a lekker physical match. Of course, a lot will depend on how the forwards approach the match, and how they can dominate,” Van Zyl said.

“I think it will be a nice, intense forwards game, but I am convinced that if the forwards can lay the foundation and give these backs good ball possession, then we can do our thing.

“We will have to stop their momentum, and it is always a good forwards battle against them. I don’t think we will move away from how we play – Free State, of course, want to score tries! If it is through the forwards or the back-three, we will see on the day.

“The approach should be, when you play against the Bulls, those numbers one to eight and 16 to 21 have to pitch up physically and do their thing.”

De Bruin and Pokomela were two of the better players amongst the youngsters in the Springbok Showdown at Newlands recently, and Van Zyl said that they had taken considerable confidence from their performances.

But now there is something more tangible at stake – log points – and they may face greater pressure against two experienced campaigners in the Bulls’ Jacques van Rooyen (loosehead prop) and Arno Botha (blindside flank).

The exciting Rosko Specman will start in the No 11 jumper for the Cheetahs on Friday. Photo: @Blitzboks on twitter

The Cheetahs forwards coach also expressed his happiness with new recruit, flank Andisa Ntsila, who produced an impressive work-rate on defence and attack against the Pumas.

Van Zyl, though, hopes that his team’s lineout functions better this time around. “If you do your things right, then the performance will look after itself. Our lineouts weren’t 100 percent spot-on last week, and it is important to get it right – not only to score tries, but applying pressure and gaining penalties.”

Teams For Bloemfontein

The Cheetahs starting side:

15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Malcolm Jaer 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg 12 Frans Steyn 11 Rosko Specman 10 Tian Schoeman 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain) 8 Jasper Wiese 7 Junior Pokomela 6 Andisa Ntsila 5 Walt Steenkamp 4 Carl Wegner 3 Luan de Bruin 2 Reinach Venter 1 Charles Marais.

Bench: 16 Jacques du Toit 17 Boan Venter 18 Erich de Jager 19 JP du Preez 20 Aidon Davis 21 Chris Massyn 22 Tian Meyer 23 William Small-Smith.

The Bulls starting side:

15 Gio Aplon 14 David Kriel 13 Cornal Hendricks 12 Clinton Swart 11 Jade Stighling 10 Morné Steyn 9 Embrose Papier 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Arno Botha 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Jason Jenkins 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Bench: 16 Joe van Zyl 17 Gerhard Steenekamp 18 Mornay Smith 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 Nizaam Carr 21 Ivan van Zyl 22 Chris Smith 23 Stedman Gans.

Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni

Kickoff: 7pm.


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