MARIETTE ADAMS looks ahead to the Pro14 matches involving the Kings and Cheetahs this weekend.
LEINSTER vs KINGS (Friday, 9:55pm)
Due to the Kings’ continued struggles and Leinster’s high standing in the European pecking order, this is a fixture that will draw minimal interest locally. Despite Leinster selecting a youthful side, you can almost certainly predict that the Kings are on a hiding to nothing.
Sitting pretty with 63 points atop the Conference B table, Leinster are leading the way in the competition. They are 22 points clear of second-placed Edinburgh and have also accumulated 10 points more than Conference A leaders Munster.
In terms of results, the Kings are the worst performing side in the tournament, and have it all to do in Dublin if they are to snap a seven-game losing streak away from home.
Be that as it may, Kings coach Deon Davids has persisted with his rotation policy ahead of this match. Captain JC Astle and veteran loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira have been rested, with Stephan Greeff and Alulutho Tshakweni starting in their place.
Rookie flyhalf Bader Pretorius has retained his spot in the team, but Davids handed first starts to fullback Ulrich Beyers and scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius. Whether the changes will boost the Kings’ malfunctioning defence remains to be seen, but it will bolster their attack, so expect the visitors to come with a few enterprising plays.
Leinster – 15 Barry Daly, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Conor O’Brien, 12 Noel Reid, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Max Deegan, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony (c), 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Ed Byrne.
Subs: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Jimmy O’Brien, Rory O’Loughlin.
Kings – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Henry Brown, 5 Andries van Schalkwyk, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 John-Charles Astle, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Masixole Banda.
SCARLETS vs CHEETAHS (Sunday, 3pm)
Following the Scarlets’ surprise loss to Treviso last weekend, this cross-conference clash has become of utmost importance to the Welsh region’s chances of advancing to the playoffs.
The Scarlets are now five log points off a place in the top three in Conference B, but they will see Sunday’s hit-out as an opportunity to get their campaign back on track.
The Cheetahs are, however, not a team that can be taken lightly. They won four consecutive games before a narrow defeat to Connacht last week, and this specific fixture is evenly split with both sides winning one game.
There is an intriguing subplot too. Uzair Cassiem, who rose to prominence at the Cheetahs, traded Bloemfontein for Llanelli last year and will be hoping to put down a marker against his former teammates.
Based on form, it’s anyone’s game. What counts against the Cheetahs, though, is their poor history on the road.
Scarlets – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Josh Macleod, Josh Helps, 4 Jake Ball (c), 3 Werner Kruger, Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Subs: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Tom Phillips, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Steff Hughes.
Cheetahs – 15 Louis Fouché, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (c), 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Reinach Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Rudy Paige.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images