Thursday, September 07, 2006
Cheetahs to use Pack-Power
Well maybe not in the same league as the Cheetahs vs. Bulls type match, but you can expect both teams to try and nullify each others strengths, and play to theirs.
The Cheetahs team selected for this vital encounter in Bloemfontein sort of gives their game plan away – keep it tight, away from their backs, let Willem play the percentages and make sure that if we kick the ball, we kick it out.
I have said it before this year, the Cheetahs have the best pack in the Currie Cup, and nothing has changed.
Injuries have taken its toll and they have definitely missed Scholtz since he got injured, but in Ryno van der Merwe and Kabamba Floors, you have two of the best moles in South African rugby.
In fact, apart from Botes, who is not a classic fetcher, Floors and Van Der Merwe, is about the only loose-forwards (Lions guys also not too bad), that can compete with the in-form loosies of Western Province.
But then again, I do not expect the Cheetahs to move the ball too far away from their forwards for at least the first 50 minutes.
The decision to select 4 locks in the match 22 for Friday’s game sends out a clear message to Kobus van der Merwe and Western Province, our line-out ball is ours, and yours is ours too!
Barend Pieterse will pack down on the side of the scrum away from his usual position at lock, make no mistake though, you will see him being used a lot in the line-outs!
The game plan for the Cheetahs will be a real simple one, play the game in their half, keep it tight, force line-outs in their half, and let’s drive them up from there.
Apart from the Namibian Hendrik Meyer and Bevin Fortuin, the Cheetahs backline does not look like it will ask too many questions of any other team, let alone a Province backline who has been extremely impressive so-far this year.
The injury to Meyer Bosman was a bit of a blow to the Cheetahs, with De Waal and 10 and Meyer at 12, with the strong Namibian next to him, the Cheetahs could have looked to adapt two types of game plans for Friday’s game - but the serious lack of pace and penetrative power means that the Cheetahs won’t have much choice but to keep the ball in channels 1 to 3.
Another interesting fact is that the Cheetah backline has a very good defensive look about it. Gaffie provides a much needed back up to De Waal and with his booming left boot, you can be sure he will look to pin Province down in their half.
The back-row of the Cheetahs, although a bit slower than usual, looks set to stop the Province loosies and mauls in their tracks. We know how much Luke Watson like to carry the ball up and link with the backs, so expect him and the big Diack to be closely watched by the big Cheetah forwards.
From Province’s point of view, they will look to play the game they have been all the time so-far this year.
Slow the ball, or steal the ball at the breakdowns, and give the backs, quick ball to run at the opposition defense from all types of angles.
The quicker the game, the happier Province will be, but if De Waal dictates with his boot and forces a lot of first phases (line-outs), then Province will be frustrated in their own half having to contend with a huge Cheetah pack that will look to drive them at every occasion.
Personally I think Kobus missed a trick in picking DeWet for this game.
Defensively there is nothing wrong with him, but he is very slow in distributing the ball, and funny as it might sound, for Province to win, they need to run the Cheetahs of their feet and spread the ball as wide as possible, as quickly as possible.
Last week Derrick Hougaard was ineffective against Province, and it cost his team. If Willem can dictate, the Cheetahs should not lose this game.
With Floors on the bench Rassie has a huge trump card. If for some reason the Cheetahs are unable to hold it tight and contain the dangerous Province loosies and backs, expect Floors to enter the frame to offer some resistance against Luke and his troops with Ryno also adopting his game to more of a fetcher type role.
The Cheetahs have the edge in the set phases, and if we are going to see lots of scrums and line-outs, we are going to see the Cheetahs dominate.
Province has the edge when it comes to speed and attacking out wide, and also in the loose forward department. So if they manage to get the Cheetahs to play away from their big forwards, it will be a long night for the boys from Bloem.
I expect a lot of free kicks and penalties in the set phases in the first 30, and if the Cheetahs can manage to frustrate Province for the first 30 or 40, and get a lead of about 10 to 15, it will be tough to impossible for Province to come back with the Cheetahs switching to a slow defensive game for which they have the players for.
Close down Province's attacking moves at Naas or Barry (slow distributors), and you nullify the dangerous outside backs.
One or two lapses in concentration though, or more importantly, kicks not finding touch, will see Province run rampant.
Cheetahs by 8, Province to be frustrated out of the game and giving away too many penalties at line-out, scrum and maul time.
They can outplay the Cheetahs- ea stop them from playing their game
But I believe the Cheetah bench will be used to attack the province back three as well- after"hopefully" starving the hooped ones from quality ball
Again the breakdown will be key- Province cleaned house on -already won Cheetah Ball here in the first game and had used the available ball well.
This game will be a huge test for both sides- albeit some different reasons.
Like the Boks, the Cheetahs will not mind line-out ball.
Slow it down, play percentages.
07/09/2006 21:35 - (SA)
Herbert Pretorius, Die Burger
Cape Town - The Cheetahs made some noise during the week about the legality of Western Province's tactics in the scrum, but their main concern in the Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein on Friday night is Gio Aplon.
WP coach Kobus van der Merwe expects the Free Staters to do everything in their power to corner the big-hearted little fullback.
And with good reason, too. Aplon changed the course of the match against the Blue Bulls last weekend by scoring a try few other players could have done.
"They will try to neutralise our back three (Aplon and the wings, Joe Pietersen and Serili Naqelevuki). That is why it will be important for Gio and his mates to wait patiently for the right time to attack," Van der Merwe said on Thursday
The expected targeting of Aplon increases the importance of the battle at breakdown points.
Van der Merwe suspects that the Cheetahs will try to slow down WP's possession to ensure Apolon and Co do not receive the ball on the front foot.
WP captain Luke Watson, an outstanding fetcher, feels the Cheetahs pose a major threat at breakdown points.
"In Ryno van der Merwe and Kabamba Floors they have quick flankers who pounce on the loose ball. We will have to ensure that they do not deprive us of quick second-phase possession," Watson said on Thursday.
He also feels the attacking abilities of the Cheetahs make them more dangerous opponents than the more predictable Bulls.
"Against the Cheetahs you have to be more alert because they use the width of the field better and try to keep the ball alive in contact situations."
Van der Merwe agreed with Watson and said the Cheetahs would, especially after their second-half performance against the Lions last week, tend to move the ball around. At Ellis Park, the Cheetahs switched to a high-risk approach and scored four tries after halftime in a desperate effort to wipe out a 22-point deficit.
They have speed on the outside and with sharpshooter Willem de Waal back at flyhalf for the home team, WP will also have to make sure that their discipline does not let them down, especially in their own half.
At teh end of the day the same problem reamins for Province, they have no tight 5 and this will always retrun to haunt them.
Was quite funny when Aplon left him dumbfounded, like a fart had just passed him in the corridor.
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