The Cheetahs need to build on the momentum of their landslide win over the Sunwolves when they take on the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Lest we forget, the Cheetahs hammered the Japanese newcomers 92-17. They scored 14 tries, the most by any South African team in Super Rugby history, while they recorded their highest points tally in a Super Rugby game.
Of course, the result needs to be seen in context considering the Sunwolves were coming to the end of a tiresome tour, and proved to be feeble foes, but nothing should be taken away from a Cheetahs side that was as ruthless as can be.
Sergeal Petersen was in infectious form on the wing, scoring a hat-trick of tries, while captain Francois Venter was impressive once again in the midfield. The Cheetahs also completely dominated at scrum time and used their surfeit of possession to outstanding effect.
Although it was only the Cheetahs’ second win of the season, it’s a result that would have served as a considerable confidence booster as they now begin a three-week tour of Australia.
They’ll be coming up against an unpredictable Rebels side that has impressed with four wins this season, but there were signs of them slipping back into bad old habits as they succumbed to a one-sided defeat against the Hurricanes last weekend.
The Rebels have been impressive in the scrums and at the breakdown this season, but their lineout success hovers only around the 80% mark (according to SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats). It may be an area that SA Player of the Year Lood de Jager can look to target on Friday.
The Cheetahs have understandably stuck with the same side that did duty last weekend, and they’d do well to maintain an ambitious approach against a Rebels side that shows four changes to their starting lineup.
With Dom Shipperley and Mitch Inman unavailable for selection due to injury, the Rebels have had to reshuffle their backline, and the Cheetahs should look to expose any disorganisation in the Rebels’ defence.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Cheetahs 3, Rebels 1
In Melbourne: Rebels 1, Cheetahs 1
STATS AND FACTS
– These teams have faced each other four times in Super Rugby history, and while the Cheetahs have won three of them, it was the Rebels who were victorious in their most recent encounter in 2014.
– While the Rebels have won four of their last seven matches, only one of those wins has been on home ground.
– The Cheetahs come into this match after scoring 92 points against the Sunwolves, the equal most points ever by a South African team in Super Rugby.
– The Cheetahs have won 13.3 lineouts per game on average so far this campaign, equal with the Reds for the most by a team this season.
– Sean McMahon has beaten 30 defenders so far this season, the most of any forward.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Rebels||Jack Debreczeni (57)||Ben Meehan (3)||Dominic Shipperley (283)||Sean McMahon (76)|
|Cheetahs||Niel Marais (64)||Torsten van Jaarsveld (3)||Francois Venter (378)||Paul Schoeman (59)|
Rebels – 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Kotaro Matsushima, 23 Sione Tuipulotu.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Francois Venter (c), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Hilton Lobberts, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Oupa Mohoje, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/Backpage Media