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Rugby | Pro14

Rory Duncan © Gallo Images

Cheetahs count on their home base

Toyota Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan believes his team's return to their Bloemfontein base will be the elixir needed to overcome their finishing blues, and is keen that this happens when they take on Connacht at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night.

The Cheetahs have only lost one home game this season - in contrast to their away results where they have only won one game overseas - and will need to be just as successful at their base if they are to cement their places in the playoff rounds as the season heads towards its business end.

Duncan is backing his charges knowledge of the conditions around Bloemfontein to give them the edge against a team from Galway that is used to heavy underfoot and very different conditions than the game will be played in.

"Look we will prep for them just as we prepped for every other team," Duncan explained.

"Obviously we have enough footage of Connacht now to see how they play and the style of rugby they play. It will be very interesting to see what they are going to put up against us. The playing conditions in Galway are different to what they are going to get here. All I know it is great for us to be back home and looking forward to playing in front of a Free State crowd once again."

Duncan believes his team has grown, even though they have just returned from a three game tour where they failed to grab a victory, denting their playoff hopes and now need to rectify this. The Cheetahs, he believes, have become a better side in the conditions they play in, in Europe and now must press their advantage at home.

Duncan also believes the next time the team go overseas, they will be a better outfit because they have learnt the lessons of their defeats.

"The conditions that you play under – if you look at those first two games, you get more open stadiums, so its not protected like the Toyota stadium we normally play in. The wind does affect you, the rain does affect you," Duncan says.

"It is getting used to those games abroad, you need to manage your game a little bit more carefully, you need to be a bit more intelligent in terms of your kicking game. And just as a team, I think the team has grown immensely, certainly since the start of the competition if you look at those games we played to going on tour for three weeks against three good teams and coming away with three narrow losses.

"The team has certainly grown and I believe the team has come out of this stronger, because of the belief that they can win, although they didn’t get the wins, the belief that they can win is there. I think everybody looks at each other afterwards in the changeroom and realises we had the guys, we know we have the ability to do it. Now it is the case that when we go on our next tour, let’s just do it.

"I know its cliché’d but every team goes out to win. Every coach preps to win, every team wants to win. So it’s not a case of getting an easy game, we know that Connacht are a team that can beat the best on the day. They are a good team and I’m pretty sure they have ambitions to be in the playoffs but so do we. We just need to be more determined to achieve our outcomes."

The Cheetahs will name their team Friday for the match.


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