Strauss wants win over Bulls
Johannesburg - They may not have beaten the Bulls before in Super Rugby, but Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss put it quite aptly in describing his team’s preparations for Saturday’s showdown in Bloemfontein.
According to the supersport.com website, "this has been a season of firsts for us,” Strauss proclaimed, “And on Saturday we want another first – to beat the Bulls for the first time”
But even though they are on their home field, victory won’t be easy against a Bulls side that won away from home in Durban to record their sixth consecutive win since returning from tour.
In addition to this, history doesn’t favour the home side either, with the Bulls winning all 11 games against the Cheetahs since 2006 and while there have been some titanic struggles between the two sides, the Bloemfontein side has always come off second best.
But then again, the stakes have never been as high as in this game, and as the Cheetahs will tell you they never have been as confident, or had so much momentum as they have at the moment.
“This is definitely the biggest game of the season for us,” Strauss told supersport.com, “We know all three games that are left are important, but this is certainly the biggest for us and we want to keep the momentum we have been building on every week.
“We have had a lot of firsts this year and we’re very positive. For once we’re looking forward to big games like this with excitement and we welcome the challenge. We know the Bulls will be tough to beat but like any team they have their strengths and weaknesses.
“They are a team that likes to play in the right part of the field and strangles your possession and takes the points when on offer. They’re extremely physical and use the driving maul a lot.”
While the Bulls did little attacking play in Durban – their stats reveal they carried the ball a scant 97 metres on the night, a number which could literally be the lowest ball carry figure of the season – they are expected to do a lot more when they get to Bloemfontein.
“Every time they play us they tend to carry the ball a lot more and they like using the kicking game to ensure they get into the right areas. We’re expecting them to kick behind us and try and pin us down. We need to handle that pressure, handle the kicking game and use our own kicking game well when we have the chance,” Strauss added.
The winner of the game is set to win the SA Conference and will get a home playoff game, but the Cheetahs cannot afford to lose in any case if they want to give themselves a realistic chance in the playoffs.
If the Cheetahs win and deny the Bulls a bonus point, they will be level on points and have the added advantage of a bye in hand, while if the Bulls win with a bonus point and deny the Cheetahs any points, it will mean they will open up a 10 point lead on the Bloemfontein side.