Sat, Oct 14, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Cheetahs, Bulls in top form for clash

RUGBY UNION After the Cheetahs' dramatic win over the Blue Bulls last year, the two superbly coached teams are set to meet for the third time in the Currie Cup final

AFP , JOHANNESBURG

The Cheetahs' Kabamba Floors, center, takes on the Hurricanes' defense during their Super 14 clash in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on March 4. The Cheetahs believe Floors is the man to stop the Blue Bulls' Pierre Spies today.

PHOTO: EPA

South Africa's domestic rugby season closes on a high today when the Cheetahs host the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein in a repeat of last year's Currie Cup final.

It was Rassie Erasmus' Cheetahs who won just their second domestic crown last year after downing the mighty Bulls on home turf in Pretoria, but this time around it's Erasmus' team who'll host the final clash of the season.

The Cheetahs finished on top of the Currie Cup table and beat the Sharks convincingly in the semi-finals, while the Bulls -- who're playing in their fifth straight final -- got the better of Western Province.

It will be the third year in a row the Cheetahs and Bulls meet in the final.

Both teams are superbly coached and play very similar styles of rugby, with the pack looking to soften teams up among the forwards and then striking at the back.

"There's no reason why the teams should change anything now," former Springbok and Bulls lock forward Krynauw Otto said.

"Both teams have managed to score a number of tries this season and I expect them to continue playing the attacking game in the final," he said.

Cheetahs winger Philip Burger is the leading try-scorer in the Currie Cup with 14 touchdowns, while both teams scored the most number of tries in the competition this season.

There are game-breakers aplenty in the sides with the Bulls enjoying the advantage with the number of current Boks running out -- namely Akona Ndungane, Wynand Olivier, Pierre Spies, Pedrie Wannenburg and Danie Rossouw.

If the Bulls need anyone to spark their bid to reclaim the title, they need look no further than Spies.

The big No. 8, who made his Boks debut this season, has been in scintillating form since joining up with his provincial teammates in recent weeks.

But in blond-haired Kabamba Floors the Cheetahs believe they have a man to stop the charging Spies. The Cheetahs man is small and nippy around the fringes; Spies is big and genuinely fast all-round the park.

Springbok places are also up for grabs -- for the tour to Ireland and England next month -- and this could be a final opportunity for players to convince Boks coach Jake White they deserve a first-time spot in the side.

The Currie Cup is the oldest provincial rugby competition in the world and with the Bulls having won it 21 times and the Cheetahs just twice, history favors the men from Pretoria.

But no-one gave Erasmus and his men a chance at Loftus Versfeld last year and they walked off after 80 minutes having won the Currie Cup for the first time since 1976.

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