Cheetahs prepare to welcome the Stormers in what could be last game home
What should have been a sparkling season for the Cheetahs under Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith has unravelled into epic shambles.
The Cheetahs' date with the Stormers at the Free State Stadium on Saturday is an opportunity to atone for some of their embarrassing performances‚ mostly at home.
After their 38-31 win against the Sunwolves on March 11‚ the New Zealand teams wiped the floor with them with the Highlanders‚ Crusaders and the Chiefs all collecting wins.
What was galling with the defeats to the Highlanders and the Chiefs‚ the Cheetahs were leading before proceeding to take a leaf out of the Proteas choking handbook.
They will have to do without the services of regular captain Torsten van Jaarsveld‚ whose neck injury has ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament.
Elandre Huggett will deputise for him while Springbok centre Francois Venter will take hold of the leadership.
With the Cheetahs having a bye in the final round of the tournament‚ there's a high possibility Saturday's match could be their last Super Rugby game at home for the foreseeable future.
The SA Rugby Special General Council Meeting that will be sitting on July 7 will determine the fate of the South African Super Rugby side that will be culled from the tournament.
As for the Stormers‚ who named Under-20 starlet Damian Willemse as the starting flyhalf‚ it will be a case of the Cape side stitching up their play-off spot in the lop-sided Africa Conference one they have dominated.
In the corresponding fixture at Newlands which the Stormers won 53-10‚ they outplayed Smith's side in all facets and set in motion the defensive woes that were to afflict the Free State side.
Robbie Fleck's charges haven't had things work out for them as they were roasted by the Hurricanes‚ Crusaders and Highlanders in New Zealand.
They had wins against the Blues and the Chiefs at home but that wasn't going to be enough to mask the Stormers' shortcomings.
Springboks Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth have also been rested after monumental shifts for the national team.