||Join us again later when the Lions take on the Brumbies at Ellis Park in Johannesburg|
||Foley adds the extras from the conversion. They go on one last attack from the restart but Naiyaravoro is tackled into touch. FULL-TIME: Waratahs 33-18 Sharks.|
||Ungerer goes to Cronje from the scrum, but the flyhalf loses it forward. Foley picks it up after a kick and runs all but 50m for the try!|
||Foley finds touch on the Sharks side of halfway from the penalty. Phipps does well to gather a scrappy ball before Hooper coughs it up near halfway, with the Sharks getting the scrum.|
||Foley finds touch from the scrum, but the Sharks have a attacking line-out inside the Waratahs 22. They form the maul and make a few metres before Coetzee takes it up. The home side defends well as the Sharks are pushed of of the 22 and they hold on giving the home side the penalty.|
||Foley kicks down field from the scrum before Ndungane returns it. Folau runs it back before the 'Tahs are put under pressure after the ball pops out of the ruck. The home side have to go all the way back inside their own 22 and they will have the scrum 5m from their tryline.|
||Skelton takes the ball up from the line-out before Foley finds touch outside his 22. The Sharks go wide from that line-out towards the midfield before it is lost forward and the 'Tahs get a defensive scrum in their own half|
||Cronje chips and chases and gathers his own kick before passing to Sithole whole is in the corner for the score! After a TMO decision it is ruled that the wing has put his knee out and the try is not allowed.|
||Foley sends a high ball from the line-out and 'Tahs get the ball back. They go wide and it is a knock down by Pietersen, giving the home side the penalty. Foley lines up the kick for polls from about 28m out and he converts it. 'Tahs 26-18 Sharks|
||From a line-out inside their own half, the Sharks form a maul before Skelton steals it. The Sharks turn it over and Steyn kicks it down field. Ashley-Cooper recovers well before Foley clears. Mvovo runs it back. Ndungane chips but it goes straight out into touch.|
||The 'Tahs go on the attack from the restart but Folau loses the ball in the tackle. It goes wide and Pietersen is in space. He passes to Sithole who kicks into touch and they have a line-out inside their opponents 22. The Tahs win it and clear the pressure|
||Foley converts the penalty and the 'Tahs lead 23-18|
||The Waratahs now get a penalty on the Sharks 10m line after Chadwick fails to roll away from a ruck and Foley gives his team a line-out in the Sharks 22. They go wide and get another penalty after a high tackle and this time they going for the three points|
||Steyn adds the extras and it is now 20-18 to the 'Tahs|
||Hoiles nearly steal the ball from the line-out but it is lost forward and the Sharks get the scrum. The away team goes wide and after some good offloads, Fran Steyn sprints in for the try!|
||The Sharks wins the line-out in the 'Tahs 22 but are again driven back after poor ball control. Cronje kicks down field and Folau kicks it out into touch for an attacking line-out to the Sharks.|
||Foley adds the extras and the 'Tahs lead 20-11|
||The home side forms the maul before going wide and Naiyaravoro holds off the tackle from Mvovo to go in at the corner. It goes to the TMO and the try is awarded!|
||Sithole takes the ball up from the restart before Cronje finds touch outside his 22. The 'Tahs get a penalty at the line-out after the Sharks were offside and Foley gives his team a line-out deep inside the Sharks 22|
||Steyn misses the conversion and the 'Tahs still lead 13-11|
||Now on the Sharks 10m line, The 'tahs give away a penalty after some good defending. Cronje kicks the penalty across the field and Ndungane gathers and sprints in for the try!|
||The home side goes wide from the scrum but are well marked in the midfield. They get a penalty after the Sharks try and steal the ball at the ruck and Foley gives his team a line-out on the Sharks 22m line. It is not in straight and Ungerer kicks it out. It is taken quickly and Naiyaravoro is in plenty of space. The home side are just 5m short of the tryline now. The ball goes loose and Steyn kicks down field.|
||The Sharks form a maul from the line-out on their own 10m line, but they lose it forward. The 'Tahs have a scrum in a good attacking position. .|
||The 'Tahs get a penalty after a number of resets at the scrum. Foley cannot find touch and the Sharks run it back with Mvovo. Pietersen kicks before it is kicked out by Folau in the Sharks half.|
||The Sharks get the ball back from the restart and they go wide with Mvovo into space. He passes to Sithole who is tackled into touch. Ungerer loses the ball forward from the line-out and the 'Tahs have a scrum 5m from their own tryline.|
||SECOND HALF: Sharks' flyhalf Lionel Cronje gets the second half under way!|
||The home side are just 5m from from the 22 before Folau breaks through a gap and is tackled just 5m short of the Sharks tryline. The away teams wins the penalty at the ruck. Rohan Hoffmann goes to his TMO to see if there is any foul play after a scuffle and Latu is given a warning for an attempted punch. Cronje just puts into touch. Chadwick is tackled into touch from the throw in. HALF-TIME: Waratahs 13-6 Sharks.|
||Ungerer finds touch on halfway from the restart. The Waratahs takes the ball up through Naiyaravoro from the set piece before it is kicked and marked by Mvovo in his 22. The fullback gives the 'Tahs a line-out 15m from the Sharks 22|
||Steyn converts the penalty and the score is now 13-6|
||From a line-out 15m from the 'Tahs 22, the Sharks are put under pressure and are pushed back towards halfway. After 8 phases they get a penalty with the 'Tahs having hands in the ruck and Frans Steyn will go for polls.|
||The Sharks now get the penalty at the scrum with Robinson collapsing and Cronje finds touch inside the 'Tahs 22. Sithole takes it up from the set piece before Pietersen beats a defender. The Sharks are tackled back and the ball eventually goes out into touch.|
||After three phases in their own 22, Beale finally clears for the 'Tahs and the Sharks have an attacking line-out 15m from the 'Tahs 22. The 'Tahs win it and Horne is nearly through a half gap. Now in the Sharks half Skelton takes two tacklers with him before the Sharks knock it on in the tackle. The 'Tahs have a scrum near the Sharks 10m line|
||The 'Tahs wins a penalty at the scrum after the Sharks collapse it and Foley will have another shot at goal from about 30m out. He gets it between the uprights and the home side leads 13-3|
||The Waratahs get the ball back in their own half after a high ball and Kepu has a run and goes over halfway. Bismarck du Plessis turns it over but a forward pass gives the 'Tahs an attacking scrum near the Sharks 10m line.|
||The Sharks get the ball back from a high ball in their own half and they do nothing with it but kick it away. The 'Tahs run it out from their 22, but it was lost forward and the Sharks have a scrum in the 'Tahs 22. After a reset, the 'Tahs get a free-kick after an early engagement from the away side.|
||After a clumsy restart, Foley finally clears, but the Sharks have an attacking line-out just outside their opponents 22. They win it and form the maul before Coetzee breaks clear, but again they hold onto the ball and give away the penalty|
||Ungerer kicks from the restart and Foley runs it back and finds a huge gap. The 'Tahs are now in the Sharks 22. The Sharks get the ball after a kick but they hold on and they give away penalty. Foley foes for polls and gets the three points. 'Tahs 10-3 Sharks.|
||Frans Steyn lines up the kick for polls from about 35m out. He converts the penalty and the score is 7-3|
||Hooper finds a gap from the line-out and but fumbles the ball and the Sharks have an attacking scrum in the Tahs half. They win the scrum penalty and will go for the three points.|
||Horne take sit up from .the scrum before Foley relieves the pressure. The Sharks have a line-out 10m from the Tahs 22. They form the maul and Coetzee breaks away before Ungerer fails to hold onto his pass in the 'Tahs 22|
||The Sharks forms a maul 10m from the the tryline but again Skelton comes through the middle to disrupt. The Waratahs have a defensive scrum inside their 22|
||The away side forms the maul but Skelton does well to disrupt and gets a scrum for the home team. Naiyaravoro takes the ball up from the scrum but loses it forward and Steyn's kick a taken into touch by Foley. Attacking line-out to the Sharks|
||The Sharks lose the ball forward at the line-out and the 'Tahs will have an attacking scrum on the Sharks 10m line. The Sharks get the penalty after it was collapsed and Cronje gives his team a line-out in the 'Tahs half|
||The Sharks go wide from the scrum before Ungerer kicks and finds touch outside the 'Tahs 22. After kicks by both teams Mvovo nearly gathers a high ball but loses the ball forward. The 'Tahs counter and Foley sends a cross kick which goes out on the full in the Sharks half.|
||Foley sends a long kick down field and it goes into the Sharks in-goal area. Dennis takes the ball up to halfway from the restart before Skelton gets it and he loses the ball forward. Sharks have a scrum near their own 10m line.|
||The Sharks has the ball now in their own half before Steyn kicks under pressure. Folau runs it back and the ball comes off a Sharks' player for a 'Tahs line-out.|
||Foley adds the extras and the 'Tahs lead 7-0|
||Ungerer sends a box kick from the restart and the 'Tahs will have a line-out just inside the Sharks half. They go wide from the line-out and Hooper is in space, He passes to Ashley-Cooper who sprints in for the try!|
||KICK-OFF: Bernard Foley gets the game under way!|
||The Sharks have lost five in a row, but have only suffered six straight defeats in a single campaign once before (2000).|
||The Waratahs have won their last seven home games against the Sharks.|
||Welcome to live coverage of Round 14 of Super Rugby with the Waratahs taking on the Sharks at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.|
Intrigue, drama, sub-plots, controversies and surprises. It sound like a Hollywood scripted series or silver screen production.
Intrigue, drama, sub-plots, controversies and surprises. It sound like a Hollywood scripted series or silver screen production.
However, this is what Saturday's matches of Super Rugby's Round 14 holds.
It all starts when the table-topping Hurricanes host fellow New Zealand franchise the Chiefs in Wellington. The drama comes in the form of a Chiefs team desperate not to lose any more ground on the runaway leaders, the Hurricanes, and at the same time stay ahead of a hard-chasing bunch of teams just one win away from overtaking them.
The sub-plot would have been the midfield battle between All Black rivals Ma'a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams. However, Williams pulled out injured on Friday, robbing the game of one of its main attractions.
We then hop across the Tasman Sea to Sydney, where the defending champion Waratahs host the Sharks. The Tahs are looking to bounce back from last week's shock loss to the Western Force and they face a Sharks team desperate to salvage something from the disaster that has become their season.
For the second half of the day's action we track across the Indian Ocean to South Africa.
The Lions, one of the most popular teams in the competition, host the Brumbies in Johannesburg. The Lions have play-off dreams, but sit just outside the top six. The Brumbies are just one point ahead of the Waratahs in the Australian conference and know that defeat could see them drop out of the top three - perhaps even the top six, depending on other results.
The weekend's action concludes when the Cheetahs host the Highlanders. The home team, the Cheetahs, know their coach Naka Drotské will retire after the season and will look to give him a happy send-off by winning their last five matches. The Highlanders, who are still struggling to come to terms with last week's loss to the Lions, know another loss could also see them tumble out of the play-off zone.
The Crusaders, Western Force and Stormers have byes.
We look at all Saturday's matches!
Saturday, May 16
Hurricanes v Chiefs
(Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)
The headlines all week have focused on the midfield battle between destructive centres Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu.
It has been billed as a World Cup selection trial and is certainly an intriguing sub-plot to a massive game - as the Hurricanes seek to extend their 10-point lead over the two-time champion Chiefs in the New Zealand conference. Another chapter was added to that drama on Friday - when Williams opted out of the game.
However, almost lost in the hype surrounding the battle of the All Blacks was the selection of rookie flyhalf Damian McKenzie.
The 20-year-old has been handed the all-important No.10 jersey for this crunch encounter.
His elder brother Marty and experienced utility Andrew Horrell have both been found wanting in the wake of All Black star Aaron Cruden's season-ending knee injury.
Coach Dave Rennie feels there is no better time than now to push the youngster into the kitchen and see if he can stand the heat.
"[Damian] is the guy we think can do the job this week," Rennie told the Waikato Times.
"He's obviously a bit of a handful in regard to his speed and footwork at No.10, so we think he can challenge in and around that area.
"He's got a very good kicking game and is pretty electric so we think he can do the job for us."
Ahead of one of the most anticipated matches this season, coach Rennie said his team is ready for the enormous challenge facing them.
"The Hurricanes are the form team of the competition," the coach said, adding: "They are a team full of experienced players and have combinations that have played together for a number of seasons.
"They have been consistent and played some great footy.
"A win to the Hurricanes will probably see them seal the conference and if we win, we will pull them back towards the pack, so it is a big day for both sides."
The Hurricanes also have flyhalf issues, with James Marshall standing in for the other injured All Black, Beauden Barrett.
2014: Chiefs won 24-16, Hamilton
2014: Hurricanes won 45-8, Wellington
2013: Chiefs won 34-22, Hamilton
2013: Chiefs won 17-12, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 28-25, Wellington
2012: Chiefs won 33-14, Hamilton
Prediction: The Hurricanes have won just two of their last seven against the Chiefs. However, the 'Canes have won eight of their last nine at home against the men from Waikato. Six of the Hurricanes' 10 wins this season have been by eight points or under. The Chiefs' three defeats have come a combined margin of five points (three, one and one). Only Liam Messam (18) has conceded more penalties than Ben Franks (17) this season. The Hurricanes have averaged the most defenders beaten (23.2) this year, but the Chiefs have forced the lowest tackling success rate from their opponents (83 percent). There is no doubt that the Chiefs' lack of discipline - they are the most carded team by some distance, yes much worse than the Sharks - could come back to haunt them. Their nine yellow cards and one red were collected mostly by senior players - including Hikawera Elliott, Liam Messam and Sam Cane. We feel the Hurricanes will edge this arm-wrestle, but it won't be by much more than five points.
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 James Marshall, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16. Dane Coles, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Mark Abbott/Callum Gibbins, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black, 23 Rey Lee-Lo.
Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Bryce Heem, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Marty McKenzie.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe, Aki Aso
TMO: Vinny Munro
Waratahs v Sharks
(Allianz Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.40; 11.40 SA time; 09.40 GMT)
The Waratahs are chasing their eighth straight home win against the Sharks, as the defending champions look to bounce back after last week's disappointing 11-18 defeat to the Western Force.
The sub-plot in this episode of Saturday's drama is the absence from the Waratahs team of destructive back row forward Jacques Potgieter, who has a chest injury.
Potgieter last week confirmed that he will join the Sharks next year.
The Sharks are looking to snap a five-match losing streak, a daunting prospect when one considers the Durbanites have not won in Sydney in 15 years. The Durban-based franchise's solitary win in Sydney was a 26-19 triumph in March 2000.
However, the one aspect that does count in favour of the visitors is the experience of a forward pack that includes six Springboks - Marcell Coetzee, Marco Wentzel (who has taken over the captaincy), Stephan Lewies, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira.
Wallaby and Waratahs prop Ben Robinson spoke about the challenges the Tahs face against the Sharks forward pack this weekend.
He described the Sharks as a "typical South African side" that scores a lot of tries through the maul.
"They're a very strong pack," the veteran front row forward said in stating the obvious, adding: "We know we are up for a big challenge this weekend.
"They have the [du Plessis] brothers there and they give them a bit of cohesion.
"They're a very aggressive forward pack and in our previous games against them they played strong.
"They had a driving maul against us last year, which was disappointing, and their previous performances show they're a really strong side."
Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold returned the favour, describing the Waratahs as a very physical team, "probably the most physical Australian team".
However, Gold felt the Western Force last week showed how to contain and beat the Sydney-based outfit.
"The Force beat them by matching them from a physical point of view, so that's the challenge for us.
"With the likes of [Kurtley] Beale, [Israel] Folau and [Adam] Ashley-Cooper, they have some fantastic playmakers in their backline and a big strong pack.
"They're a formidable team, No.1 through No.15, they're a very well-balanced team with threats everywhere; this is possibly our toughest challenge to date."
2014: Sharks won 32-10, Durban
2012: Waratahs won 34-30, Sydney
2011: Sharks won 26-21, Durban
2010: Waratahs won 25-21, Sydney
2009: Waratahs won 16-12, Durban
2008: Waratahs won 28-13, Sydney (semifinal)
2008: Waratahs won 25-10, Sydney
Prediction: The Waratahs have won their last seven home games against the Sharks. The Waratahs' last four matches have yielded losing bonuses, while their last three have seen just 86 points scored in total. The Sharks have lost five in a row, but have only suffered six straight defeats in a single campaign once before (2000). The Sharks have averaged the most kicks from hand kicked (25.3) and received the most (26.5), but the Waratahs have produced the least, an average of 14.7. Just two sides have scored more opening quarter tries than the Waratahs (8), while the Sharks have scored the second fewest in the opening 20 minutes (two). The Waratahs have looked vulnerable all season, even when they are winning. Maybe it has something to do with coach Michael Cheika's divided attention - split between the Waratahs and Wallabies. The Sharks may have had a disastrous run this season, but they remain a quality side and when they get it right they can topple any side. Saturday may be their day, but they won't win by much more than a converted try.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Stephen Hoiles, 5 David Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Hugh Roach, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Mitchell Chapman, Jed Holloway, Jack Dempsey, Tala Gray, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Matt Carraro, Peter Betham.
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kyle Cooper, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Waylon Murray.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Will Houston
TMO: George Ayoub
Lions v Brumbies
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT; 01.05 Sunday, May 17 AEST)
The Brumbies will look to finish their two-week tour of South Africa with a win against the impressive Lions.
It is tight in the Australian conference with the Brumbies, one-point leaders over the Waratahs, rushing back Matt Toomua - who will make his comeback at centre - as they hope to end a slide that has seen the Canberra-based outfit lose four of their last five matches.
"It's hard to watch [when the team is losing], but the positive is that I'm back and I've got a few games to play - to hopefully assist getting our season back on track a bit," Toomua said.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said the Brumbies bring very different challenges than other Australian teams.
"They may not be as expansive, they are indeed a defensive team," Ackermann said, adding: "But they remain one of the best teams.
"One of the things we have picked up is that the are extremely competitive at the breakdown. They don't just spoil it [your possession], they turn it over."
Ackermann said they will make some tweaks to their game, but won't stray too far from their expansive approach.
"I still believe if we can move the ball and keep it alive, it can create opportunities for us - so we don't need to just rely on tactical kicking.
"There will be times when you can use that [kicking] and I believe between Elton [Jantjies] and Jaco van der Walt we can play both [execute both types of game plans].
"We must just get the balance."
While most Australian pundits feel the Brumbies need to prove they're not "one-trick ponies", lock Sam Carter said they won't turn away from the success of their rolling maul.
The Brumbies boast the best defence in the competition, conceding just 12 tries in 12 matches this year.
But they've lost five games by five points or less and Carter said it's now or never to start their championship run.
"It's the pointy end of the season and we've seen teams come into form," the lock told the Canberra Times.
"The Crusaders tend to do it every year.
"We know that if we stick to what we do best, we can be a real threat towards the end of the year."
With four more matches left before the playoffs, Ackermann's charges are on the cusp of making this their best season yet.
However, Ackermann said this would mean nothing if they did not keep their play-off hopes alive by winning their remaining matches of the regular season.
2012: Brumbies won 34-20, Johannesburg
2011: Lions won 29-20, Canberra
2010: Brumbies won 24-13, Canberra
2009: Lions won 25-17, Johannesburg
2008: Brumbies won 28-21, Canberra
2007: Brumbies won 14-9, Johannesburg
Prediction: The last two meetings between these sides, which took place in 2011 and 2012, were won by the away side on the day (one win each). Indeed, the last four meetings between the sides have yielded two wins apiece but no losing bonus points. The Lions have trailed at half-time in eight of their last nine matches, but have won seven of those nine matches (including one when they led at half-time). Every single one of those wins came by a margin of five or fewer points. The Brumbies have led at half-time in their last two games, but went on to lose both. The Brumbies boast the best line-out (91 percent) in the competition, while the Lions' is the second worst (79 percent). If the Lions are anywhere near the Brumbies in the last quarter they are likely to kick on and steal another close win - 10 points or less.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Allan Alaalatoa.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Jean-Paul Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Robbie Coleman.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Johan Greeff
Cheetahs v Highlanders
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT; 05.10, Sunday, May 17 NZ time)
For the second week in a row the Highlanders will face a free-running South African team in a rarified Highveld atmosphere - as they look to stay in the play-off zone.
Last week the Highlanders clearly ran out of puff in the second half, as the Lions came back from 17 points down to win.
Bloemfontein is only a few 100 metres lower than Johannesburg (1,400 metres compared to 1,753 metres above sea level), which means another 80 minutes of lung-busting action for the New Zealanders.
Coach Jamie Joseph was cautious not to be seen to make excuses for last week's second-half flop, but conceded the Highlanders had talked about the altitude effect.
''I think it played a big part," Joseph told a media briefing.
However, he made it clear it was more than just overcoming the altitude they focused on this week, with their scrums also receiving a lot of attention.
"The scrums were a part of the game where we came second," he said of the loss to Lions, adding that they will have to be much better against the Cheetahs: "The scrums require a lot of co-ordination from everybody."
Cheetahs head coach Naka Drotské said his team will face a Highlanders side determined not to slide further down the standings.
"The big challenge for us this week will be to play with the same intensity as two weeks ago [in the win over the Stormers]," Drotské told a media briefing.
"We know that this match, like any encounter against physical New Zealand teams with their big backs, will be a big challenge for our backline.
"They have a couple of danger men at the back, and from turn-over possession they are probably the best in the competition.
"Bad kicks will be punished so we have really worked hard at our tactical kicking and our chase lines, so hopefully we will be ready for them on Saturday."
Cheetahs captain Francois Uys admitted they will - just like the Lions did - look to "put pressure on their set pieces".
"We must starve them of possession," Uys said, adding: "Scrums has been a big focus for us and we've worked hard on it, so hopefully it will come off this weekend."
2013: Cheetahs won 36-19, Invercargill
2012: Highlanders won 36-33, Bloemfontein
2011: Highlanders won 24-21, Dunedin
2010: Highlanders won 31-24, Bloemfontein
2009: Highlanders won 32-8, Dunedin
2008: Highlanders won 31-28, Bloemfontein
Prediction: The Cheetahs won the first and last meetings between the sides, but lost the seven in between. The last six contests between these clubs each yielded 40 plus points and an average of 54 per game. The Highlanders have lost their last three in South Africa, but all these defeats have been by margins less than seven. The Cheetahs have won 77 percent of their scrums so far, a tournament low. Their opponents have won 94 percent of their feeds, every other side have forced lower success rates without the feed. Combined, these sides have scored just seven opening quarter tries this term. They have scored 21 in the second quarter. The Cheetahs - already without Springboks Heinrich Brüssow, Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen - have lost another two key players to injury. The absence of Joe Pietersen and Sarel Pretorius could really hurt them. It will open the door for a Highlanders win - by about eight points.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Johannes Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Burrie Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Coenie van Wyk , 23 Raymond Rhule.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith 14 Ryan Tongia, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (Captain), 7 John Hardie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edmonds.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Dan Pryor, 22 Fumiaki Tanaka, 23 Marty Banks
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Lesego Legoete
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Compiled by Jan de Koning
Statistical information provided by Opta Sports