Smith unveils Cheetahs team for Zebre clash
The Cheetahs are refreshed and well prepared to take on the team from Italy after a four-week festive season break and will enter the match with confidence, as they occupy a higher log position than their Italian rivals despite playing two less matches in the competition.
The hosts boast three victories in 12 matches to the Cheetahs’ two in 10 outings, but the Cheetahs have scored 63 more points in their matches, with their superior attack steering them to 31 tries to Zebre’s 19.
Coach Franco Smith’s men, however, will have to step up their defence, as Zebre have been more effective in that department.
This will mark the sides’ first clash this season, but after registering a comprehensive victory against Zebre in Bloemfontein and defeating the Italians 24-23 at home last season, the Cheetahs will look to continue this dominance against the side from Parma.
Chilly, but dry conditions are expected, and this should be a close contest between two teams who love to throw the ball around.
“The players show a lot of enthusiasm and commitment at training and we are ready for the challenge ahead,” said Smith.
“It will be tough to face a team who has twice at home, but we are ready to take them on.”
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Paula Balekana, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Nicolas De Battista, 11 James Elliott, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 7 Giovanni Licata, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Samuele Ortis, 4 David Sisi (captain), 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Giosué Zilocchi, 19 George Biagi, 20 Iacopo Bianchi, 21 Joshua Renton, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Tommaso Boni.
Cheetahs: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Daniel Maartens, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Walt Steenkamp, 21 Abongile Nonkontwana, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Louis Fouche.
Date: Sunday, January 6
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00 GMT; 15.00 SA Time)
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans (Wales) Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)
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