Many came with high expectations of recording a win, most left red-faced.
The Cheetahs has an enviable home record in the Currie Cup where they have not lost a game there since 2006 when they went down to the Blue Bulls.
On Saturday a star-studded Western Province outfit will take the field against the Cheetahs, and having studied the teams closely I reckon the Cheetahs’ record may just stay intact for now.
WP more or less has the team that played and did rather well in the Super 14 this year, including a convincing win over the Cheetahs at Newlands in the Super 14 competition. But that is just it… They last played together as a team in the Super 14 and we are now well over half-way into the Currie Cup competition.
Continuity plays a major part in winning games, and although most of these Boks that now return comes off a great win against the Aussies, it won’t mean much when the pull on WP jersey’s on Saturday.
Sure, on paper this WP team should klap the Cheetahs good and solid, but individuals fail whereas a team that has gelled as a unit for well over 3 or so months now will pose a greater threat in my view.
I also looked at the engine rooms of both teams, and although they match up well against one another without any clear favourites, the benches has to be tipped in the favour of the Cheetahs. Again continuity, current form and time spent on the park in the recent past plays a factor here.
The battle of the loosies will be great to watch, young Vermeulen comes in as part of an experienced loose-trio for the Cheetahs where WP again, does have great players, but not the continuity of playing in a combination for much this year.
Watch out for number 19, Brussow when he takes the field from the bench.
WP, continuity or no continuity has to have one of the best backlines in the competition, but again, game time for specifically their halfbacks (January and Grant coming back from injury) puts a big question mark over what we can expect on Saturday.
Also, do not write off the Cheetahs backline…
Tewis is not their first choice 10 by a long way, but he has the experience of Meyer Bosman next to him, who will also guide young Ebherson on his outside.
The back three for the Cheetahs are seasoned campaigners apart from Pietersen.
Like in any rugby match, the platform will have to be laid upfront where WP has improved in the recent past, but not enough in my view to erase the question marks and reputation (or lack thereof) it has gathered over the last couple of seasons.
I reckon the set-phases should be just about even, with the battle for the loose-ball one to watch and impossible to call.
But if the Cheetahs manage to keep their backs going forward they might surprise many people this weekend.
I expect the Cheetahs to play a territorial game taking on a trench-warfare type approach keeping the ball closer in.
I get the feeling WP will try and stretch them too early and pay the price for it.
For those that expect a klapping on Saturday you will be disappointed. WP will not walk over this team and in fact, if they follow their Currie Cup form so far, possibly just scrape through thanks to some individual brilliance in the backs.
My money however will be on the Cheetahs who is damned hard to beat at home playing the more ‘clever’ rugby of the two.
15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Wilton Pietersen, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Fabian Juries, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Neil Powell, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 David de Villiers, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Reserves: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Phillip Lemmer, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Heinrich Brussow, 20 JW Jonker, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Kabamba Floors.
15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Reserves: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Joe Pietersen, 22 Wylie Human.
Kick off 15:00, BloemfonteinTweet