MARIETTE ADAMS looks ahead to the Pro14 matches involving the Cheetahs and Kings on Saturday.
ULSTER vs KINGS (Saturday, 7:30pm)
Their results may leave a lot to be desired, but for the Kings it’s been a campaign where they’ve underlined the progress made under coach Deon Davids.
However, 15 defeats throughout the season have left them one log point off the foot of the standings in Conference B, where the Dragons are currently wooden-spooners.
Davids has opted for consistency, making one injury-enforced swap and one rotational change. Stefan Ungerer comes in for the injured Sarel Pretorius and Ruaan Lerm replaces Andisa Ntsila at the back of the scrum.
The Kings will face a couple of familiar faces in this match, as fullback Louis Ludik, No 8 Marcell Coetzee, hooker Rob Herring and prop Wiehahn Herbst have all been named in Ulster’s lineup.
It will be interesting to see how 32-year-old Ludik measures up against Jaer, who is nine years his junior. But all eyes will be on Ulster’s Coetzee, who will feature for the first time since January when he suffered an injury.
Ulster – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Robert Little, 10 Billy Burns, 9 David Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Subs: 16 John Andrew, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 John Cooney, 22 Michael Lowry, 23 Angus Kernohan.
Kings – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Rokoua Meli, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Bakkies Brown, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanché, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Stefan Greef, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Harlon Klaasen.
GLASGOW WARRIORS vs CHEETAHS (Saturday, 9:45pm)
The Cheetahs will be desperate to bounce back after losing their last three games on the trot against Connacht, the Scarlets and Leinster. But they are up against a Glasgow Warriors side brimming with confidence and belief that they can go all the way in the title race this year.
In the past, the Cheetahs have pulled off a few big upsets when their backs were against a wall, unfortunately none of those were against the Warriors who have beaten them on all three occasions the teams have met.
The Cheetahs’ best hope will be that the Warriors are a bit disjointed and disorganised after the three-week break in competition that allowed the recently concluded Six Nations to take centre stage. The Warriors, though, should have enough firepower to overcome the visitors’ challenge at Scotstoun Stadium and bank all the points on offer to extend their lead at the top of the Conference A log.
Coach Franco Smith has made six changes to the Cheetahs starting XV. Malcolm Jaer returns at fullback, while Henco Venter and Daniel Maartens boost the loose trio, Sintu Manjezi comes into the second row, and Marnus van der Merwe and Charles Marais are added to the front row.
Centre Nico Lee and prop Ox Nche are unavailable for selection due to suspension.
Cheetahs wing Rabz Maxwane is one try away from equalling the tournament record for tries scored (14), which was set by Tim Visser in the 2010-11 season.
Glasgow Warriors – 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Niko Matawalu, 13 Kyle Steyn, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Scott Cummings, 5 Rob Harley, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble.
Subs: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Siua Halanukonuka, 19 Bruce Flockhart, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Adam Hastings, 22 Paddy Kelly, 23 Robbie Nairn.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba 17 Reinach Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Justin Basson, 20 JP du Preez, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Louis Fouché.
The Cardiff Blues kick of round 18 with a crucial cross-conference clash against the Scarlets. Connacht will be hoping to halt the high-flying Treviso when they square off, Edinburgh welcome defending champions Leinster, the Ospreys hosts the struggling Dragons, and Munster will be aiming to collect maximum log points when they face Zebre at home.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images