The Cheetahs will be hoping the artificial field in Cardiff this weekend will help them break their duck on their first European tour this PRO14 season when they play the Cardiff Blues (Saturday 19:15).
The Cheetahs were sensational in their opening three home games but since then have lost two close games away from home against Connacht and Scarlets and desperately want to return home after this weekend with a win on tour in the bag.
Coach Hawies Fourie believes the fast surface will aid their game plan and will pick his side specifically to suit this type of game this weekend as he searches for his first win as coach since taking over from Franco Smith a few weeks ago.
“We were disappointed that we couldn’t win the previous two games. We came very close in both matches. The one against Connacht was the toughest of the two to digest,” Fourie said.
“We met with the referee assessor yesterday (Thursday) in Cardiff and he told us we were very unlucky with some of the decisions against us. But it is something that is in the past. The game against the Scarlets was a difficult one to adapt to the conditions in the rain.
“We couldn’t play the normal rugby that the team is used to playing. This weekend though against the Cardiff Blues we have a weather forecast for rain on the weekend. Our practices have all been in good, dry weather so we don’t get a chance to train in the rain at the moment.
“But our plans are right, and we are playing on an artificial surface that is a fast field and should suit the way we play. We are looking forward to seeing the guys play on this pitch. We chose the team in a way that there is enough speed on the outside that if we do get enough ball, we can give ourself a good chance to win.”
Fourie said he was hoping that the luck would go their way so they can get onto the flight with the win under their belts.
“It will be nice to get onto the flight with a win, it’s always difficult with the last game before returning home, but I’m confident the guys will be ready and up for it. They have next week off, so we know they will give everything on the field,” he added.
In contrast Southern Kings coach Robbi Kempson is looking for a better performance from his team after their whitewash against Glasgow last week when they take on the Ospreys this weekend. (Kick-off Saturday 17:00)
“We do have a young side, but that is no excuse for the result we got against Glasgow. They came out firing at us, and we should be able to handle whatever is thrown at us,” he said.
“The Ospreys are a new and different challenge for us. They are coming off a loss to Connacht and will be desperate for a win. We are expecting quite a hefty forward battle, with Tom Botha on the tighthead and Wales international flank Dan Liddiate in the Ospreys pack.
“We are looking at a strong forward performance from their perspective and we need to combat this with our forwards.
“We are looking for more entry in terms of how we play the game, regardless of the conditions, we are looking to be a bit more ambitious in how we want to be playing in PRO14 going forward.”
♦ AJ Dyer writes that the two teams are respectively sixth in Conference A and seventh in Conference B.
Even though the competition is still at an early stage the two teams seem to be rather even on the stats count, with the following few notable exceptions:
- The Kings have missed 15,5% (553 from 3618) and the Ospreys 9,5% (296 from 3110) of their tackles
- The Kings have accumulated 12 yellow cards (a problem carried over from their last two seasons) to eight by the Ospreys.
- The Ospreys have carried the ball about 50% more than the Kings 3301 to 211 times and also gained only 6672 metres to 8133
- However, on the plus side they have won more turnovers (138 to 111) and conceded less (300 to 312) than the Wales side.
Both games will be broadcast back to back on Saturday on SuperSport.