The Cheetahs have been working hard this week on making sure that their lineout will be firing on all cylinders in their Challenge Cup home clash against Scarlets at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, Italy on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
Part of the deal for the Cheetahs to play in this season’s Challenge Cup was that they would be based in Europe, with them choosing Parma as their base, and this will be their first game at their makeshift home ground after they started the competition with an away win over Pau in France.
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In that match, particularly in the first half, their lineout was found wanting, and coach Hawies Fourie admitted in the week that they would make sure they fixed those problems ahead of the Scarlets clash.
“That has been a big focus point for us. Our lineouts are important. That’s our main source of attacking ball. The way our game plan works, winning our lineout is very important, as we have a strong maul but you can’t maul without the ball,” explained Fourie.
“All the problems that we had were small fixables. So we have been putting in a lot of time on that and I am pretty sure we will be much sharper on Saturday.
“You can also expect the Scarlets to target us there. They obviously saw what Pau did to us with their contesting, so we are expecting a fierce battle in the lineouts.”
The Cheetahs were dealt a blow in the week when it was confirmed that flank Oupa Mohoje, who enjoyed a big game against Pau, had been cited and banned for three weeks for a dangerous tackle and will thus be unavailable for the match.
However the impressive performance off the bench by fellow loose forward Daniel Maartens will soften the blow, and it was confirmed by Fourie before the disciplinary hearing that should Mahoje be unavailable, Maartens would come straight in.
“Daniel had a big impact on the game. He made four turnovers, made a line break from our own 22m and he made a lot of tackles and ball carries. So we were pleased with his performance. If Oupa is not available Daniel will definitely start,” said Fourie.
The experience of scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is likely to play a big part in the match, as he did in their win over Pau, with his impressive goal kicking form a key aspect of the Cheetahs game.