Bloemfontein – Statistics will not influence what happens on the field on Saturday.
“What will have an influence however, are the players’ performances and discipline over the 80 minutes,” said Cheetahs team manager Eugene van Wyk.
Van Wyk added that is why the Cheetahs are not taking notice of statistics that make them the overwhelming favourites to beat an exciting yet unpredictable Lions team at the Free State Stadium.
According to statistics supplied by the South African Rugby Union (SARU), the Lions have lost their last 17 Super Rugby matches.
The Cheetahs also just so happen to score more tries against the Lions than they do against any other team. SARU’s statistics show that the Cheetahs average 3.33 tries per match against the Lions, having scored 20 in six games.
In the previous match between the teams – in Welkom last year – the Cheetahs scored nine tries in their 59-10 romp over the Johannesburg-based side.
“One has to bear in mind that the Lions had just about given up by then after a series of defeats, while the Cheetahs were on a high after a few victories,” said Van Wyk.
“Saturday’s match will be tougher and it will be very difficult to breach the Lions’ defensive line.”
The other teams in Super Rugby against whom the Cheetahs have been relatively successful on attack are the Bulls (21 tries in seven games at an average of three per match), the Brumbies (6, 17, 2.83), Blues (6, 17, 2.83), Highlanders (6, 16, 2.67) and Sharks (6, 16, 2.67).
The Cheetahs have struggled the most to get through the Crusaders’ defence. They have only managed nine tries in six matches against the seven-time champions at an average of 1.50.
They have also struggled against the Reds (6 matches, 10 tries, average of 1.67 per match) and the Waratahs (6, 11, 1.83).
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Sias Ebersohn at flyhalf and Riaan Viljoen at fullback signals an attacking intent.
Captain Andries Strauss wrote in his weekly column for Volksblad
on Thursday that there was no creativity on attack against the Stormers last weekend at Newlands.
Ebersohn may not be the best kicking flyhalf in the country, but there is no doubt about his creative abilities.Teams:Cheetahs:
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Philip Snyman, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss (captain), 11. Ryno Benjamin, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Ashley Johnson, 7. Philip van der Walt, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4. Martin Muller, 3. WP Nel, 2. Ryno Barnes, 1. Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16. Skipper Badenhorst, 17. Kobus Calldo, 18. Kabamba Floors, 19. Francois Uys, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Naas Olivier, 22. Fabian JuriesLions:
15. James Kamana, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies La Grange, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (capt), 4. Wikus van Heerden, 3. Patrick Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Kevin Buys, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Michael Bondesio, 21. Burton Francis, Jaco Taute