'Teamwork the key at Loftus'
Bloemfontein - While personal duels are often in the spotlight ahead of derby matches, Saturday's game at Loftus Versfeld will be about which team functions best as a unit.
The visitors' attitude towards the Bulls is clear when one speaks to players in the Cheetahs camp: stick to the team's strengths - and in their instance it's good interplay. That has allowed the Cheetahs to a record four straight victories.
Both teams are playing better than at the start of the tournament and the Cheetahs have showed that a team needn't have big names to beat big sides.
That is precisely why it's no surprise to hear Cheetahs wing Philip Snyman say that he alone is not responsible for stopping Bulls flyer Bjorn Basson.
According to Snyman, who makes his return in place of the suspended Ryno Benjamin, the good interplay between his team-mates makes his task that much easier. Benjamin was banned for two weeks after being found guilty of head butting Stirling Mortlock against the Melbourne Rebels.
Snyman says not much has changed in the team's planning, but it's nice to be part of a winning culture now. The sevens Springbok last played for the Cheetahs against the Reds on their overseas tour, after which he was sidelined with an ankle injury.
He was available for the Crusaders game two weeks ago, but his team-mates' good form prevented him from making an immediate return.
Just as was the case in the first derby game against the Bulls, the right wing will have the task of looking after Basson. Snyman previously performed that role well as he defends consistently and he is good under high kicks.
"At this stage of the competition all the teams, including us, are playing better rugby and it's a big challenge. The nice thing is that the team are now doing well. It's good to know that there are 14 other guys on the field that are helping. It's not just about a one-on-one duel," he said.
The Bulls have been utilising Basson's strength of contesting high kicks particularly well.
"We definitely expect them to kick, but we can't just focus on one thing. It does not matter what they come up with. We should have an answer."
Meanwhile, Hendrik Roodt has been included among the Cheetahs' substitutes after Izak van der Westhuizen failed to recover from a groin injury.
Roodt's physical performance in Griquas' Vodacom Cup semi-final against the Blue Bulls will give the Cheetahs hope.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Gerhard van den Heever
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Corné Uys, 11 Philip Snyman, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Hendrik Roodt, 19 Johan Wessels, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Hennie Daniller