Cape Town - Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has assured fans that they are working hard at improving their defence.
The men from Bloemfontein have struggled with their defence in recent times and it was again an area of concern in their clash against the Sunwolves in Singapore last weekend.
The Cheetahs had to overcome a 31-13 deficit to beat the Japanese team, but four first half tries against them made things difficult.
Smith, speaking at a press conference in Bloemfontein on Thursday, acknowledged that the team’s defence has not been good enough in the early parts of the competition, but insisted that they have the right structures in place.
“It’s not system errors. It’s maybe one or two individuals falling off tackles. It’s not like we’re not in a position to make tackles, so it’s just confidence in defence and confidence in the newer approach that we have,” Smith said.
The more his young players are exposed to Super Rugby, the better they will become at this aspect of the game, Smith believes.
“Not everybody has the experience. Experience is not what you know, but what you do with what you know. They don’t yet have that ability to block the pressure of the game out and therefore every tackle is a bit rushed.
"But when they get confidence in their own ability and arrogance in their own capability, I think we’ll fall off less tackles, but that will only come the more we play and the more we work at it.
“Defence wins finals, we know that, it’s a fact, so we work really hard at it. If somebody feels we’re falling off (tackles), that’s true, but hopefully it will become less and less.”
The Cheetahs face the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday (17:05 kick-off) and they know full well they can’t afford to slip tackles there.
The last time the teams clashed at Ellis Park was during last year’s Currie Cup semi-finals, when poor defence and discipline saw the Cheetahs surrender an eight-point lead in the 56th minute to eventually lose 43-33.
The last time the teams clashed in Super Rugby, the Lions thumped the Cheetahs 40-17 in Bloemfontein on May 23 last year.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Neil Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Hilton Lobberts, 21 Boom Prinsloo, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga