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Western Force v Cheetahs - teams and predication

PREVIEW: The Cheetahs are determined to use their limited game time as preparation to ensure they are up for their second run at European glory.

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The Bloemfontein-based franchise – who, as Currie Cup champions, earned a second invite to the Challenge Cup starting in December – face the Western Force in Perth on Saturday in the fourth and final game of the challenge series.

Having given the entire squad game time in the two home games in Bloemfontein, only 25 players in the reduced travelling will be used for the two outings in Perth.

The Cheetahs were victorious in the first two rounds – beating the Force 31-27 and 27-12 in Bloemfontein

They suffered a nailbiting 27-30 loss in Perth last week.

“I felt that we didn’t start well and we fought back in the last 15 minutes before half-time,” coach Hawies Fourie said of last week’s loss.

“There were a few strange decisions in the second half and we lost our cool, which resulted in 15 penalties, two yellow cards and a free kick.

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“It was difficult to recover from that, so this week we spoke a lot about what we can control and what we must do in a similar situation.”

Fourie said they also used the time on tour to ‘bond’ as a team.

“I’m happy with the growth of the team on tour,” he told @rugby365com ahead of the final match of the series.

“The EPCR Challenge Cup is the big thing for us.

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“Besides Saturday’s match, we have two more warm-up games – against the Griffons and Lions – to prepare we’ve got to use the game time we have well.

“We had a good training week and decided to select the best available team. We want to win this one and do it well.”

Fourie said the team will stick to their strengths, even though their attack requires some work.

“We had a big focus on attack and hopefully we’ll see the results of the effort put in.

“Apart from a couple of lapses in concentration, we did well on defence.

“We have a good kicking game, so that stays unchanged.”

With the conditions foreign to what they will experience in Europe, the Cheetahs are focusing on the basics.

(The article continues below the video, as Hawies Fourie previews the Perth finale …)

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The Force named an unchanged starting XV, but Santiago Medrano has been ruled out from the replacement bench due to injury.

Argentine prop Medrano came off the bench for last Friday’s win in Mandurah.

“Santiago underwent surgery on Wednesday after tearing his left biceps in last Friday against the Cheetahs,” the Force medical team said in a statement.

“The surgery went well, but Santiago will require an extended period of rehabilitation – ruling him out of a return to play for four months minimum, with a view to returning to Force training in pre-season.”

Force hooker Tom Horton said the benefits of competing against the Cheetahs will be “massive” for the young squad ahead of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

“I think it’s massive,” Horton said.

“Not many of our guys would’ve played against boys that big [like the Cheetahs].

“It’s a great learning experience as we’re going to come up against big sides next year.

“It’s building confidence that we can keep up with them.”

When asked about the focuses for Saturday’s game in Claremont, he added: “It’s about the same stuff we’ve been working on the whole series – maul defence, execution and staying in the fight the whole time.”

Prediction

@rugby365com: Western Force by six points

Teams

Western Force: 15 Harry Potter, 14 George Poolman, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Ronan Leahy, 10 Max Burey (co-captain), 9 Henry Robertson, 8 Jeremy Williams (co-captain), 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Faamanu Kalolo, 5 Lopeti Faifua, 4 Jackson Pugh, 3 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Marley Pearce.
Replacements – from: 16 Albert Alcock, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Regi Churchward, 19 Reagan Leslie, 21 Titi Nofogatotoa, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Reesjan Pasitoa, 24 Rewita Biddle.

Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Cohen Jasper, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Friedle Olivier, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Laurence Victor, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 6 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 George Lourens, 22 Abner van Reenen, 23 Robert Ebersohn.

Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Claremont Oval, Perth
Kick-off: 15.00 (09.00 SA time; 07.00 GMT)
Referee: TBC

@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Picture credit: @CheetahsRugby

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