Cheetahs can fly, but it will be an uphill battle
A win over Connacht would send them into the knock-out spots, only problem is they play away in Ireland
The Cheetahs may be second last in their conference but they have an outside chance of catapulting themselves back into contention with a shock Pro 14 win over Connacht in Ireland on Saturday.
Problem is‚ they are playing away in Galway which rather lengthens the odds on them joining the potential conference A’s qualifiers for the knock-out stages.
The knock-out stages though‚ are some way off.
Their immediate task is taking on a Connacht side that is tough to crack at home.
Moreover‚ the Cheetahs are still without Oupa Mohoje (knee)‚ Jamba Ulenga (neck)‚ Joseph Dweba (hamstring)‚ Malcolm Jaer (knee)‚ Benhard Janse van Rensburg (concussion) and Aidon Davis (broken leg).
They need no reminding Connacht’s only home defeats this season have come against compatriots Leinster and Munster‚ as well as Glasgow Warriors‚ all sides who are flying high in European competition.
At least the Cheetahs embarked on their three-match tour having done everything expected of them since the start of the year.
They are unbeaten in 2019 but the two wins against Zebre and the Southern Kings do not necessarily represent over achievement at the cutting edge of the competition.
The Cheetahs are sixth in their seven-team conference but a surprise bonus point win over Connacht will elevate them into third place should other results involving Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys also go their way.
Connacht, who are fourth‚ can go second if they win this weekend.
Apart from the four wins in 2019 Franco Smith’s team will also be buoyed by the enterprising style of play they have been able to sustain this season.
Their attack has been impressive and they have scored the same number of tries as log leaders Munster. The Cheetahs and Munster with 54 tries, are well clear of the rest in conference A‚ but the former needs to brush up their defence.
The Cheetahs’ good attacking intent has been offset by their leaky defence which has seen them let in the most tries in their conference.
The high number of tries they score and concede are however partly explained by the fact that they play on a much harder surface and a drier conditions when they are at home.
They will be desperate to get one‚ if not two wins, before they return home. They would have targeted to win this match‚ as well as next week’s clash against Scarlets‚ who are well off the pace they set the last few seasons.
The Cheetahs’ last match on tour is against Leinster and they have a bigger chance of recruiting five active Springboks than winning in Dublin.
Touring squad for matches against Connacht‚ Scarlets and Leinster.
Aranos Coetzee‚ Luan de Bruin‚ JP du Preez‚ Jacques du Toit‚ Louis Fouche‚ Nico Lee‚ Sintu Manjezi‚ Tapiwa Mafura‚ Charles Marais‚ Rabz Maxwane‚ Tian Meyer‚ Ox Nche‚ Abongile Nonkontwana‚ Gerhard Olivier‚ Rudi Paige‚ Junior Pokomela‚ Tian Schoeman‚ William Small-Smith‚ Walt Steenkamp‚ Dries Swanepoel‚ Marnus van der Merwe‚ Henco Venter‚ Reinach Venter‚ Shaun Venter‚ Jasper Wiese.