Consistency key for Cheetahs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Cheetahs will be facing Scarlets on Sunday in a crucial PRO14 match at the Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli in Wales.
In stark contrast to the Cheetahs, who suffered their first defeat after a four-match winning run last week, the Scarlets have battled to find their rhythm, which has seen them register only one victory in their last six matches. But the Welshmen will draw inspiration from the fact that they have suffered only one defeat at home this season.
The sides will enter the match equal on log points (36) with the Scarlets boasting seven victories to the Cheetahs’ six, but while the visitors have been more effective on attack with 57 tries to the home side’s 45, the Scarlets will rely on their solid defence to keep the visitors at bay after conceding 18 fewer tries in their 15 matches.
With a number of top performers in the competition in the Cheetahs’ team, including try-scoring machine Rabz Maxwane (most tries in the competition) and Junior Pokomela (most lineout steals), the visitors have the manpower to return to their winning ways.
Coach Franco Smith said: “We expect a tough match on Sunday. Statistics show that the Scarlets score most of their points in the second half and we expect a big finish from them. It will be a hard fight for 80 minutes.”
“It is important for us to follow up with a good performance this week. We did well last week and fell short against a very good team. This week we’ll have to go a step further and be more clinical in the execution of our plans, but I feel that we took a lot of confidence from our performance against Connacht.
“The players are more used to the circumstances and conditions in Europe and we are looking forward to improve on our performance.”
“Wayne Pivac is a very experienced coach, who will be coaching the national team next year. Even without some of their players, they are well prepared and an organised group. We anticipate a huge onslaught from them.”
Smith has made two changes to the side.
Jasper Wiese and Walt Steenkamp switch places with Steenkamp in the starting line-up.
While, Dries Swanepoel and Benhard Janse van Rensburg will be the centre pair.
Oupa Mohoje (knee), Jamba Ulenga (neck), Joseph Dweba (hamstring), Malcolm Jaer (knee) and Aidon Davis (broken leg) are not eligible for team selection due to injury.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Paul Asquith, 10 Ioan Nicholas; 9 Dan Jones,8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Josh Macleod, 5 Jake Ball (captain), 4 Werner Kruger, 3 Ryan Elias, 2 Wyn Jones, 1 Kieran Hardy.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Tom Phillips, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Steff Hughes.
Cheetahs: 15 Louis Fouche, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (captain),8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Reinach Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Tian Meyer
Date: Sunday, February 24
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Kick-off: 13.00 (13.00 GMT, 15.00 South African time)
Referee: Johnny Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones, Chris Busby (Ireland)
Television match official: Jon Mason (Wales)