Cape Town - The Cheetahs, back in South Africa after their most successful Super Rugby tour to date, can win a fourth consecutive match for only the second time in their history when they host the Rebels at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
On tour, the Cheetahs beat the Highlanders, Waratahs and Force. It was their third “hat-trick” of wins in Super Rugby, repeating their three-on-the-trot successes of 2006 and 2010.
In 2011 they went one better when they beat the Brumbies, Lions, Crusaders and Rebels on consecutive weekends, but all those wins were in Bloemfontein.
The Cheetahs have never lost to the Rebels, with their last-minute victory in Melbourne last year one of their best to date.
The three wins Down Under lifted their team spirit and although they will not underestimate the Rebels following their huge 64-7 loss to the Sharks in Durban last week, coach Naka Drotské said his team will be ready on Saturday.
“Our superb team spirit was probably the biggest factor in the three wins on tour,” said Drotské.
“It’s always positive to win overseas, but now we are back and we have to win our home games. In this competition, if you want to make the playoffs, you have to win at home.
“The Sharks certainly did us no favours with their 60-point win last weekend and I know the Rebels will want to bounce back. We just need to keep our guys grounded and work hard at sticking to the basics instead of trying to force “magical” things.
“We will not make the mistake of underestimating the Rebels.”
Hawies Fourie, the Cheetahs’ assistant coach, said: “The biggest difference between this year and previous seasons, is the way in which we defend. The guys are sticking to the plan and although I think our attack can still improve, it’s important to keep up the good defence if we are going to be successful.
“We’ve picked up a lot of confidence from the last three games, and that came with defending well. We know we can beat any team at home and if we can improve our attacking play, we will be a force to be reckoned with.”Teams:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Sarel Pretorius
, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen
, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Ryno BenjaminRebels:
15 James O'Connor, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Gareth Delve, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson
Substitutes: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Rory Sidey, Tom English