PREVIEW: Pro14, Round 17
SNOWED IN: Five of the seven Pro14 matches in Round 17 have been postponed due to adverse weather conditions.
Round 17 fixtures between Ulster and Glasgow Warriors; Edinburgh and Munster, Cardiff Blues and Benetton, Zebre and Ospreys as well as Scarlets and Leinster have all been affected from the ‘Beast from the East' - the weather system that has seen heavy snowfall across the UK, Ireland and much of Europe.
The two matches that will take place this weekend are both in South Africa.
On Friday the Southern Kings will host the Newport Gwent Dragons in Port Elizabeth.
The Kings are still searching for their first win in the Pro14 and they have come very close in a number of their home games and Bernard Jackman’s team will keen to avoid any slip-ups here.
On Saturday, the Cheetahs return to home comforts in Bloemfontein as Connacht make the trip in a fixture where both teams are in serious need of points.
Cheetahs are looking to arrest a slide of three defeats in a row while Connacht needs to hold off Ospreys in the Champions Cup race, but their hosts are in good try-scoring form and they have lost just once at the Free State Stadium this season.
Top Performers – Round 16:
Most tackles: 25 Rynard Landman (Dragons) / Tienie Burger (Southern Kings)
Most carries: 26 Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh)
Defenders beaten: 9 Nick McCarthy (Leinster)
Offloads: 4 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh) Tom Farrell (Connacht) Monty Ioane (Benetton)
Breaks: 4 Monty Ioane (Benetton)
Metres made: 144 Monty Ioane (Benetton)
Turnovers won: 4 Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues)
Line-outs won: 13 Mick Kearney (Leinster)
We take a look at all the Round 17 action!
Friday, March 2:
SOUTHERN KINGS v NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
(Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth - Kick-off: 19.35; 17.35 UK & Ireland Time, 17.35 GMT)
Southern Kings are still searching for their first Pro14 victory, having tallied just two try bonus points and two losing bonus points so far this campaign.
Just one Welsh side has visited Port Elizabeth this season: Scarlets, winning 34-30 in Round Nine.
Dragons most recent victory in the Pro14 was when they met Southern Kings in Newport in Round Five.
The Welshmen have not won away from home in the Championship since a visit to Treviso in March 2015.
The two sides' only previous meeting in the Pro14 was on September 30 with Dragons winning 29-13 at Rodney Parade.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Anthonie Volmink, 10 Martin Du Toit. 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby De Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Jacques Nel.
Dragons: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Jarryd Sage, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Liam Belcher, 3 Leon Brown, 4 Joe Davies, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Harri Keddie, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 8 Lewis Evans (captain), 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Harri Keddie, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Max Williams, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Dan Babos, 22 Connor Edwards, 23 Rio Dyer.
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Saturday, March 3:
CHEETAHS v CONNACHT
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 19.35; 17.35 UK & Ireland Time; 17.35 GMT)
Cheetahs have slipped to three straight defeats in the Pro14 but those have come on visits to Wales (two) and Scotland.
Cheetahs have lost just once at home this campaign: 26-29 to Glasgow in Round Six.
Connacht have won just three times in the Pro14 since Round Eight, but two of those have been in the last three fixtures.
Connacht's victory in Treviso last weekend was the first on the road since they visited Edinburgh last April.
The two sides have met just once before with Connacht winning 23-15 in Galway in Round Eight.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Renier Bernardo, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Sibhale Maxano.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Niyi Adeolokun.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse (South Africa), Jaco Kotze (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)