Chee­tahs wel­come back big guns

The New Age (Western Cape) - - Sport - MMASEKEPE MATSEBANE mmasekepem@the­newage.co.za MMASEKEPE MATSEBANE mmasekepem@the­newage.co.za

HAD it not been for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Guin­ness Pro14, the Chee­tahs could have long con­firmed their spot in the Cur­rie Cup semi­fi­nals.

By the time the Pro14 started, the Chee­tahs were top of the Cur­rie Cup stand­ings – but since then their do­mes­tic form has dipped af­ter miss­ing key play­ers due to their Euro­pean jour­ney.

The Chee­tahs had been a fear­less for­ma­tion in the Cur­rie Cup, beat­ing the Sharks, Western Prov­ince, Pu­mas, Blue Bulls and Golden Lions, los­ing just once to Gri­quas.

A things stand, the Chee­tahs are third on the log with 31 points and need a big per­for­mance against the Golden Lions in Jo­han­nes­burg to­mor­row if they are to make the top four.

And thanks to their lucky stars, the Free State side has no Pro 14 re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the next two weeks, mean­ing they can se­lect their top guns for the clash.

With­out need­ing a sec­ond in­vi­ta­tion, Chee­tahs coach Rory Dun­can and di­rec­tor of rugby Franco Smith se­lected a strong line­up that will be led by ex­pe­ri­enced cap­tain Torsten van Jaarsveld.

Top play­ers like Boks loose for­ward Oupa Mo­hoje and winger Ray­mond Rhule have been named in the start­ing team, while Maka­zole Mapimpi and Rosko Spec­man will be the play­ers to watch.

“This is an ex­tremely im­por­tant game for the Chee­tahs. We will be push­ing as hard as we can to get re­sults,” Dun­can said.

The race for the semis starts at 7pm tonight when the Blue Bulls host the Pu­mas at Lof­tus Vers­feld. IT IS al­ways to the ben­e­fit of the PSL in the greater scheme of things and a great ad­vert for South African foot­ball when­ever Mamelodi Sun­downs and Kaizer Chiefs both at full strength meet.

This time around though, Sun­downs seem to be clear favourites for the game on Tues­day as their at­tack is in top shape, while the Chiefs’ de­fence is shaky.

Apart from Khama Bil­liat, the Brazil­ians will wel­come back Themba Zwane, Percy Tau and Sibusiso Vi­lakazi, who all scored for Bafana Bafana on Satur­day.

Chiefs are ex­pected to be with­out Lorenzo Gordinho, while Mu­lo­mowan­dau Mathoho is doubt­ful, with Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Tsepo Masilela also un­avail­able.

While Downs are on a high, Chiefs have some­thing to gain in­spi­ra­tion from, hav­ing won the Macufe Cup last week­end.

Head­ing into Tues­day’s game at Lof­tus Vers­feld sta­dium, Bil­liat does not think get­ting three points will be easy, but reck­ons play­ing along­side team­mates who turned out for Bafana will make the Brazil­ians even stronger.

“They have al­ways been bet­ter play­ers even be­fore we started play­ing to­gether. And us now play­ing to­gether will make us even bet­ter. We just have to up our to­tal ef­fort,” Bil­liat said.

“We would like to be dan­ger­ous. If we are, then we will be some­thing else for Chiefs to face.

“It will be one of the best games of the sea­son for our sup­port­ers to en­joy. But they too have great play­ers, like (Siphiwe) Tsha­bal­ala.

“It is an im­por­tant for ev­ery in­di­vid­ual play­ing for the club, for its his­tory.

“But Chiefs are a good team. We will have to work hard, watch all their videos and look at how they are do­ing. We want to do even bet­ter, get to where we are used to and get all our con­fi­dence go­ing.”

Mean­while, the Brazil­ians will today an­nounce their new three-year part­ner­ship with car man­u­fac­turer Hyundai.

PICTURE: GALLO IM­AGES

FANCY FOOT­WORK: Chee­tahs’ util­ity back Rosko Spec­man.

GALLO IM­AGES PICTURE:

CLASSY AP­PROACH: Downs for­ward Khama Bil­liat.

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