Johannesburg – The Cheetahs are expecting a scrum onslaught when they face the Stormers in their Super Rugby match in Bloemfontein on Saturday (17:10 kick-off).
The Stormers demolished the Bulls with their two powerful front rows at Newlands last week and will have the Cheetahs scrum firmly in their sights this coming weekend.
The Cheetahs performed admirably against a strong Argentinean Jaguares scrum and were lauded by their coach Franco Smith for their efforts. But come Saturday they will face another onslaught, with the Stormers pack looking to establish their dominance early and set the basis for their team to go on and win.
Smith says he realises that the Stormers are likely to target their scrum but said the Cheetahs will not shy away from the challenge.
“We are a team that is growing and is building and while we know they have a good scrum we will face up to it. We have players who have to face these challenges in order to grow. It may be a bigger thing if winning was our only objective but while we want to win we have young players we need to blood and expose to these pressures” Smith told SuperSport.com.
“Saying that I don’t think the Stormers will change the way they approach the game and are likely to bring on their strong front row in the second half to continue their onslaught.
“We scrummed well last week and we’re slowly finding our feet in this competition and the players will get better under the pressure. But the Stormers pack is very special at the moment.”
While Smith has given his players an extra day off to recover from the bruising encounter against the Jaguares he had only praise for what he saw from the Stormers last weekend.
“They are definitely a team in form and did exceptional work on Saturday,” Smith explained. “Their set-pieces are good and the physicality that someone like Eben Etzebeth and Schalk Burger bring is exceptional. The depth they have on the bench in the scrum makes a difference and in the backs the freedom that Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh had at the sevens is busy influencing their play on attack.
“They play 15-man rugby and are a very well-rounded team at the moment.”
Smith said the Cheetahs wouldn’t change their approach for their opposition.
“Every team plays to their strong points and we will also do that. We played well on Friday and we will get better if we keep on like this. We will need more concentration and more hard work but of course there must be a balance.
“We need to manage our game plan better and not move away from it at crucial times.”
The Cheetahs will be hoping to overturn their one-point loss against the Jaguares in Saturday’s game to get their first win of the season.