Cape Town - Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith believes their second outing of the season against Western Province will be an even tougher assignment for his charges.
The teams squared off at a wet Newlands two weeks ago when the Cape side won by a narrow 9-3 margin.
WP dominated the game for large parts, but the wet conditions proved a leveller and sound defence from the Cheetahs kept them in the game.
The Free Staters had a chance to sneak a win at the death but centre Rayno Benjamin lost control of the ball with the tryline begging.
This Friday’s clash will be contested in much drier conditions at the Free State Stadium and Smith has warned that they will face a different challenge from WP this time round.
“There are a lot of things that will be different (from Newlands). The ball will be dry, under-foot it will be more solid. So that will definitely make a difference for both teams,” Smith said at a press conference in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Smith singled out dangerous WP flyers Seabelo Senatla and Cheslin Kolbe as men his players need to be wary of.
“They have a very good attacking side, between Senatla and Kolbe, they are very unpredictable. They’re quick off the mark, sevens-like players. That always makes a big difference to them. So I expect them to have an attacking mindset and it will be much more difficult to defend, with the under-foot (conditions) being solid.”
Smith was happy with his side’s defence in their 31-9 win over Griquas in Kimberley last week and has asked for more of the same against WP.
“Last week we defended quite well against Griquas in similar conditions so the main emphasis for us on defence will be to repeat that performance. We must not give them space and not allow them to play too much.”
Smith also expects a backlash from WP following the defending Currie Cup champions’ heavy 47-29 defeat to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria last week.
“I think they are very determined after the big loss at the weekend. They are the Currie Cup champions and I don’t think anybody there likes to take one on the chin. I know that they’ve definitely had a rough week. It will be a very motivated side.”
The Cheetahs were pummelled at scrum time in the clash against WP at Newlands, with Oli Kebble in particular wreaking havoc.
Kebble is sidelined by a hamstring injury this week and won’t travel to Bloemfontein, with Alistair Vermaak chosen to start.
The Cheetahs though are also laid low in that department with Maks van Dyk released to play for the Barbarians against Samoa in London.
“That (scrum) is one area of the game that we’re really working hard at. A lot of bad habits have developed over the last years here. We’ve changed the way that we want to scrum, so hopefully this week we’ll take a step forward again,"continued Smith.
Kick-off for Friday’s clash at Free State Stadium is scheduled for 19:10.
Free State Cheetahs:
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Ruan van Rensburg, 21, Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JP Smith, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dillyn Leyds