• Preview: Cheetahs vs Lions

    The Lions will make their return to Super Rugby with a tough fixture against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

    The sides might be two of the competition's more unfancied teams, but if previous matches between them are to be used as a yardstick then we are set for an entertaining encounter.

    The Cheetahs have won five out of their nine previous games against the Lions, with the men from Johannesburg winning the other four. The average score is 31-20 to the Cheetahs who have scored scored 27 tries compared to the Lions' 16.

    Naka Drotské's men were the surprise package of last year's tournament and registered their best ever finish. Their sixth place on the table secured them a spot in the play-offs where they suffered a narrow defeat to the eventual runners-up, the Brumbies, in Canberra.

    The match is a big occasion for the Lions, who return to the competition after they were relegated at the end of the 2012 season to make way for the Southern Kings.

    Lions boss Johan Ackermann believes their year in the wilderness will make them an unknown quantity in this year's competition and although they'll start as underdogs against the Cheetahs he feels they have a chance of upsetting their hosts.

    'They don't know what to expect from us and at what level we are going to be and in which areas we will challenge them,' said Ackermann.

    Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
    Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Rynhardt Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Rayno Benjamin.

    Lions – 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
    Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Alwyn Hollenbach.

    Betflash.co.za has the Cheetahs at 0.6 to 1 with an 8.5 point deficit

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    Photo: Allan James Lipp/BackpagePix