Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské says his side is desperate to find positive momentum following three consecutive losses since the start of the Super Rugby competition.
“We seriously need a victory, considering that we lost two of the matches in the last minutes,” Drotské said on Wednesday ahead of his team’s match against the Rebels in Melbourne on Sunday.
The Bloemfontein-based side were left reeling after a controversial last-minute scrum penalty went against them, which saw them losing by a narrow 24-23 to the Brumbies in Canberra.
Referee Keith Brown came under severe scrutiny because of his handling of the game, in particular his interpretation of the scrums, which saw the Cheetahs receiving a number of penalties late in the game.
Drotské said the team would not dwell on last weekend’s disappointment and rather set its sights on clinching a crucial victory over the Rebels.
“We’ve left the match behind us. We had many opportunities to clinch the game, but sometimes made the wrong decisions. Hopefully we can get it right this weekend.”
The Cheetahs received a boost in midfield with the inclusion of Andries Strauss for Sunday’s match. Strauss is back in contention after he served a two-week suspension for a tip-tackle on Lions lock Wikus van Heerden in the first match of the season.
Drotské said Strauss would make a welcome return as he would add extra firing power on attack and defence.
“He looked very good against the Lions and it is great to have him back as he is also one of our leaders,” said Drotské.
His inclusion sees Philip Snyman moving out of the match-day 22 altogether. Drotské has shuffled his loose trio combination for the fourth time in as many games.
Philip van der Walt will move from the side of the scrum to eighth man, with Ashley Johnson shifting to the bench. Davon Raubenheimer will receive a starting berth at open side flanker.
The coach said he followed a horses-for-courses approach with his selection of a different loose trio for this weekend.
“We have a lot of depth in the group and we felt that it was the best combination for us at this stage.”
Cheetahs team: Hennie Daniller, Cameron Jacobs, Robert Ebersohn, Andries Strauss, Willie le Roux, Johan Goosen, Tewis de Bruyn, Philip van der Walt, Davon Raubenheimer, Heinrich Brussow, Izak van der Westhuizen, George Earle, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: Hercu Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane, Justin Downey, Ashley Johnson, Piet van Zyl, Sias Ebersohn, Rayno Benjamin. — Sapa