Preview: Cheetahs v Southern Kings
ROUND 12 CATCH-UP MATCH: The second of three South African derby matches take place this week as the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs catch up on their Pro14 schedule.
Considering the thrilling finish between the Cheetahs and Southern Kings just a fortnight ago in Port Elizabeth this weekend will be nothing less as sparks are set to fly in Bloemfontein.
The home side, Cheetahs (A6) will be eager to secure a win which will see them closing in on northern rivals as they are now only five points away from Cardiff Blues. While a bonus-point win in this fixture would leave just two points shy of third place and relight hopes of a return to the PRO14 Final Series.
In terms of team news Cheetahs, head coach Franco Smith has given the captain’s armband to Shaun Venter while scrumhalf Rudy Paige will provide cover on the bench.
The two flanks, Junior Pokomela and Abongile Nonkontwana will be switching jerseys.
On the bench, Jasper Wiese is a new addition on the bench while Ernst Stapelberg will provide cover for Tian Schoeman.
Cheetahs head coach Smith said: “The longer you play in this competition, the better you adapt and we expect that the Kings would want to cause an upset. They will be up for the challenge and we realise that it is going to a tough.
“The fact that they keep playing right till the very end makes them a dangerous opponent.
“We’ve worked hard on different aspects of our games since the last encounter,”
While for the Kings, head coach Deon Davids has opted to make use of Fijian flyer, Meli Rokoua in the middle.
Rokoua, who was instrumental in the Isuzu Southern Kings’ fightback and win over Edinburgh Rugby last week when he came on from the bench, will start alongside former Cheetahs player, Tertius Kruger, in the midfield. This will be the Southern Kings’ only change to their backline this week.
In the forward pack, Ruaan Lerm will make a return in the No8 jersey in the place of Andisa Ntsila, who will be expected to make an impact from the bench this week.
Centre Berton Klaasen, who missed out on selection last week due to an eye injury, will be back in the team providing cover from the bench.
The Southern Kings will also have a debutant on the bench in this derby.
Pumas stalwart, De-Jay Terblanche joined the Port Elizabeth-based side on a loan agreement this week.
The 33-year-old Knysna-born Terblanche was brought in to bolster the Isuzu Southern Kings front row which has Pieter Scholtz out on a three-match suspension while injuries to Justin Forwood, Rossouw de Klerk and most recently Lupumlo Mguca have left the side ailing in the prop department.
The Southern Kings, who showed a great fighting spirit in their previous two matches, are eager to continue producing good performances and a positive result in the hope of turning around the 17-24 defeat to the Cheetahs a fortnight ago.
“We learnt a lot of lessons in that first match against the Cheetahs. Scrums are definitely an area that has been a priority for us,” Davids indicated.
“We know what to expect from the Cheetahs. They have some smart coaches, so we know they will have one or two things up their sleeves. What is important for us is to improve on the fundamentals – particularly the scrums and lineouts.”
After the injury-time defeat to the Cheetahs and last week’s impressive 25-21 win over Edinburgh, the Eastern Cape side has also been focusing on the positive elements they picked up from the recent outings.
“Reflecting on last weekend’s game, the boys put in a tremendous effort. For this week, we need to add to our execution. I felt we had some opportunities which we could have done better in,” the head coach pointed out.
“We have shown that defensively and with the ball in hand, we can match any team, but if we don’t get the quality ball it becomes difficult – that for us is the priority. We can practise all the other stuff, but if the set pieces are not in good shape, then it will be an uphill battle.”
Cheetahs: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (captain), 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Neill Jordaan, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Ernst Stapelberg.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Ntabeni Dukisa 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Cyril-John Velleman, 5 John-Charles Astle (captain), 4 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 De-Jay Terblanche, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Berton Klaasen.
Date: Saturday, February 2
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 16.00 (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
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