The Cheetahs and Southern Kings will have their sights set on strong finishes to their first PRO14 tours of the season when they line up against the Cardiff Blues and Ospreys on Saturday.
In what will be their penultimate matches in the competition this year, the Kings will take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea at 5pm [SA time], while the Cheetahs play the Cardiff Blues directly after at 7:15pm [SA time]. Following the fixtures in Wales, both sides will then have a two-week break, before a final short trip to the UK ahead of the festive season break.
The Cheetahs will be hoping that the artificial field in Cardiff will assist them in breaking their winless run on tour, after narrow back-to-back defeats against Connacht and the Scarlets. The Bloemfontein side began the season in sensational fashion with three dominant wins in a row at home. A win for the Cheetahs this weekend would be their first under new coach Hawies Fourie.
‘We were disappointed that we didn’t win the last two games,’ said Fourie. ‘We came very close in both of them. In the game against the Scarlets, in particular, it was difficult to adapt to the wet and windy conditions, and we couldn’t play our normal style of rugby.
‘This weekend against the Cardiff Blues there could be rain again according to the weather forecast. Our practices, however, have all been in good, dry weather, so we haven’t had a chance to train in the rain.
‘But our plans are right, and we are playing on an artificial surface, which is fast, and that should suit the way we play. We chose the team in such a way that if there is enough speed on the outside and we get enough ball, we can give ourselves a good chance to win.’
Fourie added that his team will have extra motivation ahead of their week off but also admitted that the encounter will likely prove challenging for the Currie Cup champions.
‘It would be nice to get onto the flight with a win,’ continued Fourie. ‘It’s always difficult with the last game before returning home, but I’m confident the guys will be ready and up for it. They have next week off, so we know they will give everything on the field.’
Meanwhile, Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson is hoping for an drastically improved performance from his side against Ospreys, after being kept scoreless a week ago by last season’s finalists, the Glasgow Warriors.
‘We have a young side, but that is no excuse for the result we got against Glasgow,’ said Kempson.
‘They came out firing, and we should be able to handle whatever is thrown at us. Ospreys are a new and different challenge for us. They come off a loss to Connacht and will be desperate for a win. We are expecting quite a hefty forward battle, and we need to combat this.
‘We are looking for more entry in terms of how we play the game, and regardless of the conditions, we are looking to be a bit more ambitious in how we want to be play in the PRO14 going forward.’
Photo: Gareth Everett/Gallo Images