Schalk: We want to be in final
Vodacom Western Province will not be looking past the Free State Cheetahs to a final when they clash in an Absa Currie Cup final at Newlands on Saturday.
Vodacom Western Province will not be looking past the Free State Cheetahs to a final when they clash in an Absa Currie Cup final at Newlands on Saturday.

That was the assurance to their supporters from captain Schalk Burger, who in the same breath acknowledged that the Cheetahs have a superior record in recent Currie Cup semi-finals.

"It's something we had a chat about (the previous semi-finals between the teams). I've played in a few semi-finals and haven't had any success, so it's an important game for us as a team.

"We're not looking past it to the final. We're playing against a very confident and strong Cheetahs side that's coming down here with a lot of belief. They're coming down here to beat us, and our aim is to go out there and get into a final.

"We as a group haven't been to a final, so hopefully we can come out with a good performance, and a good performance is needed because an average perfomance won't get us into a final."

Burger's team was in a very good position to win their home semi against the Blue Bulls last year, but a mistake late in the second half cost them dearly. Burger said the team was aware of the importance of avoiding the same scenario.

"Yes, we have to. This year in the Super 14 final the Bulls came out and blitzed us in the first 20 minutes, so it's important. We got through our Super 14 semi-final by playing really well and being in control of the game, so we'll try and get a similar performance going this weekend."

Burger warned that success in the Super 14 semi was not going to automatically translate to success in the Currie Cup semi-final. " Itt's a completely different competition and different opposition.

"We had a lot of belief playing against the Waratahs because we had a really convincing win during the pool stages. With the Cheetahs it's a bit different because they came down to Cape Town and beat us here (in the league stage)."

Burger spoke with a lot of respect about his opposition number, Cheetahs flanker Juan Smith and said they are definitely a stronger team with him back. "He's got the same thing right at the Boks. He's a fantastic player.

"He's a guy I've played many tests with. He obviously is an outstanding player on and off the field and the way that he leads the team, with him there they're definitely a stronger team."

He also had a lot of praise for Cheetahs No 8 Ashley Johnson, who seemed to have peak at the right time of the season. " He's obviously from a good school, Paarl Gym, so he is a great player.

"He is having a very good season, but that whole Cheetahs pack will pose a big challenge. A lot was made of the Sharks pack and I think you can talk about the Cheetahs in the same breath. They're a fantastic pack of forwards."

Burger was looking forward to taking on the Cheetahs at a Newlands packed to the rafters and he said the crowd support is something that will boost the team.

"When the crowd is singing we're obviously playing well. When they're booing, it's not going well, so hopefully the crowd starts singing early on Saturday."

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