The Cheetahs will have to put in a big defensive effort to beat the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
The Free Staters always play an entertaining brand of rugby. They have scored the fourth most number of tries in this year's Super Rugby tournament (31) including a record-equalling 14 against the Sunwolves two weeks ago.
The problem for the Bloemfontein-based franchise is that their defence has not been nearly as good. According to the Vodacom Stats App, they missed the third most tackles in last year's Super Rugby competition (345) and have missed the fourth most tackles after nine rounds this year (183). Only the Sunwolves, Jaguares and Force have a worse defensive record.
In Melbourne last weekend, the Cheetahs slipped 16 tackles and conceded five tries in their 36-14 defeat to the Rebels.
On Saturday, Franco Smith's side will be up against a Reds team that managed to score three tries against a Stormers side that has impressed on defence this season. The Queenslanders will look to play a ball-in-hand game again in Brisbane, and unless the Cheetahs stand up on defence they will suffer a second consecutive tour defeat.
The one thing in the Cheetahs' favour is that they have only had to travel from Melbourne to Brisbane, while the Reds had to make the long trip back from South Africa. That could have an affect on the hosts in the final quarter of Saturday's match, especially if it's been an open, running game.
Smith has made five changes to the Cheetahs' starting lineup. Carl Wegner replaces Francois Uys in the second row with Lood de Jager moving to No 5; Paul Schoeman shifts from No 8 to openside flank, replacing the injured Hilton Lobberts, with Henco Venter at eighthman; and Fred Zeilinga comes in for Niel Marais at flyhalf.
The Reds have named an unchanged match 23.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Reds 6, Cheetahs 4
In Brisbane: Reds 4, Cheetahs 0
STATS AND FACTS
– The Reds have won five of their last six matches against the Cheetahs, outscoring them by 70 points across that span.
– The Cheetahs have won just one of their last six matches in Australia, and they’ve never beaten the Reds there (lost four).
– The Reds have scored just one try in the final 20 minutes of their games this season, fewer than any other side.
– Torsten van Jaarsveld has won 91 throws so far this season, the most of any player (success rate 86%).
– The Reds have a scrum success of 95% so far this season, the best of any team, the Cheetahs’ is the least effective scrum in the competition (73%).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Reds||Jake McIntyre (65)||Samu Kerevi (4)||Samu Kerevi (569)||Jake McIntyre (60)|
|Cheetahs||Sergeal Petersen (30)||Sergeal Petersen (6)||Sergeal Petersen (535)||Paul Schoeman (71)|
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Junior Laloifi, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ben Matwijow, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Francois Venter (c), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Michael van der Spuy.
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Photo: Charle Lombard/Gallo Images