Venter: Anything can happen in Currie Cup final


Free State Cheetahs captain Francois Venter has warned "anything can happen" in Saturday's Currie Cup final clash with the Blue Bulls, despite his side's unbeaten round-robin campaign.

The Cheetahs won all eight of their regular-season matches before seeing off reigning champions the Golden Lions in a thumping 55-17 semi-final victory last weekend.

With Bloemfontein playing host to Saturday's decider, the Cheetahs are firm favourites to win their first title since 2007 against a Bulls side who scraped through thanks to a late Ivan van Zyl try in a 36-30 last-four win over Western Province.

But Venter says the final is far from a foregone conclusion.

"In a final everything is equal, anything can happen," he is quoted as saying by The Star ahead of the Cheetahs' first final since 2009, when the Bulls came out on top.

"It is something new [for the current crop of players], the hype is there, but it's still rugby.

"I want the guys to go out there and enjoy it, first and foremost.

"We started preparing for this final from day one, the work is done; we now need to go out and execute the plan.

"It's a final and we have to be better than last week. The Bulls will pose different challenges than the Lions did, but our journey is not going to stop here at the semis. We must get better and keep growing.

"There's no difference this week except that final is written on the jersey and there will be more people - we're playing to win, but we must first enjoy it."

Bulls coach Nollis Marais is confident his side can cause an upset, despite suffering a 43-20 defeat at Free State Stadium earlier this season.

"Let me make it clear, we back ourselves to win," he said. "The reality of the matter though is that we are facing a team that is undefeated and playing great rugby. And they play in front of a packed stadium with supporters.

"So it is not going to be easy, but we have to do it the hard way, which is great."