MARIETTE ADAMS looks ahead to this weekend’s Pro14 matches involving the Cheetahs and Kings.
CHEETAHS vs OSPREYS (Saturday, 5:30pm)
The Cheetahs are out of the running for the playoffs following their heavy defeat to the Glasgow Warriors a fortnight ago.
Coach Franco Smith will be disappointed by that and hope for a strong finish from his charges in the closing stages of a taxing season.
In their previous encounter with the Ospreys this season, the Cheetahs gave a good account of themselves, but crumbled in the last quarter of the game to lose 46-14. A win in the return fixture would not only serve as revenge, but severely dent the Ospreys’ qualification aspirations.
Hooker Joseph Dweba, prop Luan de Bruin and flank Gerhard Olivier have been rotated into the Cheetahs starting team, but all eyes will be on Rabz Maxwane. The wing is still one try away from equalling the tournament record for tries scored (14), which was set by Tim Visser in the 2010-11 season. Maxwane will be eager to reach the milestone in front of the partisan Bloemfontein crowd.
The Ospreys’ Krugersdorp-born wing, Hanno Dirksen, will make his 100th Pro14 appearance for the Welsh region, where he joined in 2009. However, the Cheetahs will pay closer attention to tighthead Tom Botha, who traded them for the Ospreys last year.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (c), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Aranos Coetzee, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Justin Basson, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Louis Fouché.
Ospreys – 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keenan Giles, 10 Luke Price, 9 Aled Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Subs: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Dan Lydia, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Luke Morgan.
KINGS vs DRAGONS (Sunday, 3pm)
The Kings are presented with a wonderful opportunity to secure just their third win of the season, which would allow them to extend the good feeling that has surrounded them since a consortium of businessmen acquired a controlling interest in the franchise.
A rare Kings win would also put some distance between them and the Dragons on the log. Coming into this clash one point separates the sides in sixth and seventh position in Conference B.
The Dragons just managed to hold off the Kings when they met in Newport in September, but the Kings are a different side when they play at home.
The Dragons have called on Zane Kirchner and Brok Harris, who both earn starting berths against their compatriots in Port Elizabeth.
This should be a close contest, but expect the Kings to get over the line in the end.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JC Astle, 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Alandré van Rooyen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Steph de Wit, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Berton Klaasen, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
Dragons – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Max Williams, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Richard Hubbard (c), 1 Brok Harris.
Subs: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Lennon Greggains, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Jordan Williams.
Munster welcome a Cardiff Blues outfit looking to enhance their playoff hopes, the Glasgow Warriors are at home where they will take on a resurgent Ulster team, Connacht host minnows Zebre, the Scarlets will square off against Edinburgh in a crucial clash that could see the winner rise to the all-important third place in Conference B, and Leinster should collect all the points on offer against Treviso in Dublin.
Photo: Huw Evans/Agency/Gallo Images