Pumas look to dominate up front

The Pumas will use their dominance at scrum time to lay a platform for victory against the Free State Cheetahs. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

The Pumas stood firm against the highly rated Sharks front row last weekend, with their scrum providing a solid platform for the backs to attack. With Caylib and Coenie Oosthuizen out injured and Trevor Nyakane on Springbok duty, the Cheetahs are short on experience among their current front rankers, something which hasn't gone unnoticed by Jimmy Stonehouse.

'We're scrumming very well at the moment, so that will be an area where we'll be looking to target the Cheetahs,' the Pumas coach told SARugbymag.co.za.

While Stonehouse understands the need to win the battle up front, he emphasises the need to stay within the laws of the game.

'You can't dominate each and every scrum. Sometimes it's better to let them clear the ball, rather than give away a penalty. We can always get them at the next one.

'A penalty here and there is not too bad, but avoiding yellow and red cards is the main concern.'

As such the Pumas have the best disciplinary record in this season's competition, having conceded just 34 penalties, almost 20 less than their opponents on Saturday.

A first-round victory over the Cheetahs alerted the rugby public to their ability, but the Pumas understand that an away trip to Bloemfontein will be a truer test of their credentials.

'A team that can win away is a team that can make it to the top,' said Stonehouse.

As we near the midway point of the competition, the Pumas find themselves firmly among the play-off contenders. A win against the Cheetahs would give them some welcome breathing space, but Stonehouse insists that the priority is still to secure their place in next season's Premier Division.

'Our goal, first and foremost, is to stay away from the promotion-relegation match. If we could get away with a bonus point this weekend we'd be happy, but if we can pick up a win, well that would be ideal.'

Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images