Cheetahs v Sharks - teams and prediction
MAKING A STATEMENT: This may be billed as another ‘pre-season’ match, but the Cheetahs are determined to send a strong message to the big four franchises.
Having been kicked out of Super Rugby, then the Pro14 and more recently having lost out on a chance to play in the European Challenge Cup, they want to show they can still be a serious player on the international stage.
They fell agonisingly short against a Western Province selection last week, but against a strong Sharks selection, they can show their true value.
The Cheetahs conclude the program when they host Romanian outfit Baia Mare from Romania next week.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt has named a very strong squad, loaded with international experience.
The most significant selection is the return of a Sharks favourite in Aphelele Fassi. The Springbok has been released from national duty and Everitt has named him in the matchday 23.
Samoan international flank Olajuwon Noa will start this match alongside fellow Samoan Ben Tapuai, who has represented Australia.
Tapuai is well known in Australian circles, spending six years with the Reds and a further season with the Western Force – during which time he made seven appearances for the Wallabies – before playing in England at Bath and Harlequins.
Noa has two Test caps to his name and will no doubt look to impose his 1.94m tall and 112kg frame on the opposition.
Dian Bleuler, a newly signed 22-year-old replacement prop from Western Province is also in the mix. The South African Under-20 player made his senior debut this year and will add depth to the Sharks’ front row.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie admitted his team’s set pieces were problematic in their opening pre-season outing against Western Province last week – a 30-31 loss.
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Not only did they lose a number of line-outs on their own throw, they were also penalised in the scrums.
He also spoke about the need to “convert” better when they get opportunities in the opposition 22-metre area.
With the Sharks using the outing in Bloem as preparation for the resumption of their URC campaign next week, Fourie expects the Sharks to be at “full force”.
However, the Cheetahs want to prove they still belong at the top table in South African rugby.
“For us, it is a challenge to show we are still up there with the URC teams and can be competitive against them,” Fourie told @rugby365com.
He added that, on the flip side, this is also preparation for the 2022 Currie Cup competition – scheduled to get underway in January.
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) November 17, 2021
“We are working on the things that didn’t go well in the previous two games,” he said of the outings against WP and Spanish club Barcelona.
“We must improve with every outing and hit the ground running when the Currie Cup starts.”
After this Challenge series, the Cheetahs also have a ‘friendly’ lined up against Griquas on January 7.
“We feel these games in November is enough preparation for us,” the coach said, adding: “We don’t want to overplay ourselves.”
@rugby365com: Sharks by 18 points
Cheetahs: 15 Cohen Jasper, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Britz, 12 Robbert Ebersohn, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 Siyabonga Masuku, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Aidon Davis (captain), 7 Jeandré Labuschagne, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Victor Sekekete, 3 Jacobus van Vuuren, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Allulutho Tshakweni.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Teboho Mohoje/Lohan Potgieter, 21 Zinedene Booysen, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Evardi Boshoff.
Sharks: 15 Rynhardt Jonker, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter (captain), 7 Olajuwon Noa, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Date: Saturday, November 20
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 14.00 (12.00 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Darren Colby
TMO: Ben Crouse
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) November 18, 2021