Currie Cup

Pumas play down favourites tag

2014-09-07 10:00
Jimmy Stonehouse (Gallo Images)

Bloemfontein - Pumas' coach Jimmy Stonehouse says it is way too early to brand his side as one of the favourites in this year's Currie Cup competition.

The Pumas are currently second on the overall log after beating the Free State Cheetahs 31-17 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

With the single round of games still ahead, many people are regarding the Nelspruit-based side as a real factor in the competition. But even though they have won four of their last five games, Stonehouse is careful about buying into the whole favourites tag being attached to the side.

"We said at the start of the Currie Cup that our main focus is not to be part of the whole promotion and relegation process, and that is still our goal.

"Everything else is simply a bonus for us. We are doing well at the moment and we are winning.

"If we can win another couple of games, we will be sure of our participation next year and only then can we start worrying about the semi-finals and final," Stonehouse said.

A big weapon of attack for the Pumas is their scrum. They showed against the Cheetahs that they have come together as a unit and have also shown against other sides that their scrum is a huge factor in their dominance.

"We really put in a lot of effort at practice with regards to our scrums, especially because it is an area where you can concede many penalties if you don't get it right.

"Everyone needs to do the hard work together. It can't be about the individual, otherwise you get penalties against you and that can cost you the game," he added.

The Pumas next travel to Kimberley to take on the Griquas, who surprised the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

And Stonehouse knows how important victories away from home are going to be.

"A team that wins its away games is a team that can compete in the competition.

"We played well against the Cheetahs. We missed the bonus point even though there were many chances to get it.

"This week we will look at discipline once again, because the Griquas proved against the Sharks that you cannot afford to make any errors within striking distance.

"And we will touch up on our scrum work to keep that facet sharp," he said.

The Cheetahs will have to regroup this week before they travel to Durban to take on the Sharks at home on Saturday. After losing on home soil against the Griquas, they will want to rectify their mistakes against the Durbanites.

"It was just really disappointing. We need to go back this week and look at what went wrong. There is definitely much work that needs to be done before we take on the Sharks," Cheetahs' coach Rory Duncan said.

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