Cheetahs v Baia Mare - teams and prediction
PREVIEW: The Cheetahs are determined to finish off their November campaign on a high, but face a tricky European opponent that will provide them with a very different test.
Baia Mare, the powerful Romanian Champion outfit, brings with it touches of New Zealand and Australian rugby in the backline, along with the type of forward play European teams are famous for.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said he was looking for an improvement on his team’s 40-34 win over the Sharks last week.
Having started the November Challenge series with a one-point loss to Western Province, they finally got some reward against the Sharks.
“The opposition in this game will be of a high quality,” Fourie said – having watched them demolish a Free State scratch selection 72-14 last Friday.
“They play with a lot of skill and variation,” the Cheetahs coach said of the Romanian opposition.
Baia Mare named a team that includes a number of internationals, released by the Romania national team specifically for this trip.
They also have a number of players the Cheetahs will be familiar with.
In the backline, there is New Zealand-born centre Jason Tomane, Samoan midfielder David Feliuai, one-time Bulls flyer Kefentse Mahlo and Namibian flyhalf Helarius Kisting.
Up front, they have one-time Western Province loose forward Dumani Mtya, who has been capped by Romania, and a couple of Georgian forwards – lock Mate Dardzulidze and prop Revazi Dugladze.
The Cheetahs coach said his main focus is on “improvement”.
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“We set ourselves a goal of winning all three the remaining goals, after the one-point loss to Province,” Fourie told @rugby365com.
He added they will look to play ‘traditional Cheetahs rugby’ if the weather permits.
“There’s some rain that is forecast [for Bloemfontein] for today [Thursday] and tomorrow [Friday]. We will have a look at the pitch and the conditions.
“We have planned for both. If it is dry we will play our normal style, but if it is wet and rainy we will adjust.”
After Friday the Cheetahs players will get a one-week break, before starting another ‘pre-season’ block of two weeks.
They will then break over the festive season and start with serious preparations for the Currie Cup early in January.
The Cheetahs will be hoping the rehabilitation of players in their crammed sickbay goes according to plan.
However, loose forward George Cronje (knee) and scrumhalf Branden de Kock (knee) look set to miss the entire 2022 Currie Cup campaign.
Other players with long-term injuries include Rosko Specman (knee), Reinhardt Fortuin (knee), Daniel Kasende (knee), Duncan Saal (bicep) and Aranos Coetzee (bicep).
“We expect them back in February or early March,” the coach said.
“Most of the other guys – like Mox [Nqobisizwe Moxoli, wrist], Andisa [Ntsila, neck], Jeandré Rudolph [knee], Malcolm Jaer [ankle], Clayton Blommetjies [ankle], Chris Smit [quad] and Enver Brandt [hamstring] – will be ready when the Currie Cup starts [in mid-January],” he said.
Cameron Dawson (ankle) is “touch and go” for the season opener.
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by nine points
Cheetahs: 15 Cohen Jasper, 14 Evardi Boshoff, 13 David Brits, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Craig Barry, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Lohan Potgieter, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Marné Coetzee, 19 Teboho Mohoje, 20 Celimpilo Gumede, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Siyabonga Masuku, 23 Robert Ebersohn.
Baia Mare: 15 Paul Popoaia, 14 Adrian Apostol, 13 Jason Tomane, 12 David Feliuai, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Helarius Kisting, 9 Vlad Bocanet, 8 Alexandru Alexe, 7 Dumani Mtya, 6 Florian Rosu, 5 Stefan Iancu, 4 Mate Dardzulidze, 3 Revazi Dugladze, 2 Ovidiu Cojocaru (captain), 1 Constantin Pristavita.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Tala, 17 Mihai Dico, 18 Omar Baliashvili, 19 Marius Danila, 20 Aleksandre Kalmakhelidze, 21 Alexandru Tigla, 22 Alexandru Bucur, 23 Mihau Lamboiu.
Date: Friday, November 26
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 18.15 (18.15 EET; 16.15 GMT)
Referee: Ruhan Meyiring
Assistant referees: Philip Kotze, DF Hefer
TMO: Ben Crouse