Cheetahs captain Juan Smith believes his team has the ability to crack the Stormers’ defensive code and upstage the high-flying Cape Town outfit when the two sides meet at Newlands on Saturday.
The Stormers, the most miserly of all the teams, have conceded just four tries in five Super 14 matches this season – with the Hurricanes the only team to score more than once in 80 minutes.
It was not until the 66th minute that the Hurricanes scored their first try – and by then the Stormers had raced into a 27-3 lead, the game was long over as a contest, with the bonus point secured, and captain Schalk Burger and superstar wing Bryan Habana were already resting on the bench.
The Brumbies, the only team to have beaten the Stormers, and the Lions, also managed a try each – while the Highlanders and Waratahs failed to cross the Stormers’ line.
However, the Cheetahs captain feel it is not just their defence that makes the Stormers such a difficult team to beat.
“From one to 15, they have class and the addition of players like Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana gave them added confidence,” Smith told rugby365.com, as his team stepped up preparations for their trip to Newlands.
“They are top on the defensive stats,” he said, adding: “Their tackling is solid and their defensive patterns are in place.
“However, we have obviously made a few plans to beat that [defensive lines].
“There is no doubt that the opportunities will be few, but we have to turn each one of those chances into points.
“We need the points on the board to put the pressure on them.”
The Cheetahs, with the exception of the opening round against the Bulls and in patches during the loss to the Highlanders, showed they have a pretty decent defensive line as well.
They leaked six tries against the Bulls – who average six tries a game against all-comers – and three against the Highlanders. But they conceded just three tries in total against the Hurricanes and Sharks – the games they won this year.
It is that quality of defence they will need to reproduce against the Stormers.
“Yes, we have had the occasional lapse where an individual shut out of line on his own and that is there we conceded unnecessary tries against the Highlanders and the Bulls,” Smith told rugby365.com.
“But we are up for it and we will travel to Cape Town in full knowledge that we have to pitch up, because we are playing against a top team.
“It will be a huge physical battle from both teams and no doubt defence will play a big role in the outcome.”
Smith said it will require intense concentration for 80 minutes. In fact he said that, concentration, is one of the non-negotiables of the game.
“One slip, where one player is out of line, will let the other players down and can easily cost you seven or 10 points.”
Coming off a bye, which Smith said came at a very handy time, it will be a refreshed Cheetahs team that arrives in Cape Town on Saturday.
However, the key for the men from Bloemfontein is to regain that momentum that they had against the Hurricanes a fortnight ago.
“The danger is always that if you had such a good win before the break, that you will lose that momentum.
“However, the guys looked switched on in training this week and they are keen for the next eight weeks of league action.”
Smith also said that Newlands holds no great fears for the Cheetahs as a venue.
“It is very much like playing a Currie Cup match,” he said of the trip to Newlands, adding: “We must approach it like a Currie Cup match.
“No doubt it will be very physical and tough and there is a lot at stake – they are second and we are ninth, but one win away from the top half of the table. If we didn’t drop that game against the Highlanders we would have been in the top six.
“Newlands is one of the nicest stadiums to play in – there is always a good atmosphere and it is a nice challenge to play in front of that crowd. And for me personally Newlands have always been good.”
Article courtesy of Jan De koning of Rugby 365.Tweet