The Cheetahs are well placed to inflict a rare defeat on a weakened Glasgow Warriors outfit in the Pro14 on Friday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
GLASGOW WARRIORS vs CHEETAHS (Friday, 21:35)
In the first match between the sides – in round six in October – the Cheetahs heartbreakingly conceded a late try as the Warriors snatched a thrilling 29-26 victory in Bloemfontein.
Now, 11 rounds later with their log positions still unchanged, the teams are scheduled to clash again. Only this time, Glasgow are without 11 first-choice players who are away on international duty for Scotland in the Six Nations.
In contrast, the Cheetahs are unleashing their strongest available match 23. That being said, they will undoubtedly miss their former speed merchants Sergeal Petersen, Makazole Mapimpi and Rosko Specman, who’ve joined the Stormers, Sharks and Blitzboks respectively.
Defeat for either side will not have far-reaching consequences in terms of their log positioning, but the result of a big match like this can affect a team’s confidence and form going forward.
Whatever the case, the Cheetahs have been presented with an opportunity to get one over the Warriors, who have only lost two games so far this season.
Glasgow Warriors – 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 James Malcolm, 1 Alex Allan.
Subs: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Matt Smith, 20 Adam Ashe, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ratu Tagive.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Luther Obi.
OSPREYS vs KINGS (Friday, 21:35)
The Ospreys are one of the weaker, underperforming teams in the competition. With just four wins in 14 games, they are languishing in sixth position in Conference A.
And yet, it’s difficult to see them not securing maximum log points against the failing Kings.
Let’s face it, the Kings are making up the numbers in this competition and have struggled to compete.
This season is already a total write-off for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise and the sooner it ends, the better for the players, who must feel humiliated by the current state of affairs.
Ospreys – 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Dewi Cross, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Rob McCusker (c), 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 James King, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Subs: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Guy Mercer, 20 Will Jones, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Luke Price, 23 Hanno Dirksen.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Michael Makase, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Barend Janse van Rensburg, 23 Harlon Klaasen.
Leinster and the Scarlets are scheduled to slug it out in a top-of-the-table clash at RDA Arena. The sides are currently level on 53 log points at the summit of Conference B.
Elsewhere, Ulster and Edinburgh go into battle at Kingspan Stadium, knowing the winner will take third spot in the conference standings.
Munster come up against an improved Cardiff Blues team, Connacht are favourites to overcome Zebre, and the Dragons welcome Treviso to Newport.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images