The Cheetahs will be hoping for a more competitive showing against the Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
OSPREYS vs CHEETAHS, Saturday, 6:30pm (SA time)
After their humiliating 38-0 defeat to Munster, merely getting points on the board against the Ospreys will be an improvement for the Cheetahs. But coach Franco Smith will be hoping for much more from his team when they run out at the Liberty Stadium.
Last week, the Cheetahs worked their way into promising positions early on, but failed to turn those opportunities into points and defensive lapses cost them later in the game.
Smith has given last week’s match-day squad a chance to redeem themselves. The only change to the lineup was injury-enforced, with Aidon Davis replacing the injured Oupa Mohoje at blindside flank and Gerhard Olivier providing back-row cover off the bench.
The Ospreys will be aiming to make it two wins in as many games and coach Allen Clarke has selected his team accordingly. The match 23 is brimming with Test players, including the likes of George North, Scott Williams, Owen Watkin, captain Justin Tipuric and Dan Lydiate.
The Cheetahs will have their work cut out for them yet again, but should be expected to run the Ospreys close. If they can stay within reasonable distance on the scoreboard going into the final quarter, they will have every chance to claim a win.
The knowledge that they mauled the Ospreys 44-25 in their first match last year, and ran them close in the second, will give the Cheetahs an extra boost.
Cheetahs –15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rabz Maxwane, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 William Small-Smith, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (c), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Aidon Davis, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Ernst Stapelberg/Marnus van der Merwe, 23 Ryno Eksteen.
Ospreys – 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Tom Williams, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Nicky Smith.
Subs: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Alex Jeffries, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 James Hook, 23 Joe Thomas.
DRAGONS vs KINGS, Saturday, 4pm (SA time)
While the Dragons will be favourites, the outcome of this clash could swing either way.
The Kings didn’t play badly in their first game against Zebre. If they can replicate that performance and improve their discipline, the side from Port Elizabeth can do some damage against a Dragons outfit low in confidence after losing their first game at home against Treviso.
Coach Deon Davids has brought three players – wing Bjorn Basson and loose forwards Andisa Ntsila and Stephan de Wit – into the starting lineup. Basson will make his debut for the Kings and be eager to impress.
Veteran loosehead prop Brok Harris is starting for the Dragons against his compatriots, which will make for an interesting scrum battle against the Kings’ relatively young front row.
All in all, this should be a fair contest between two teams equally desperate to get their maiden win of the season.
Dragons – 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Josh Lewis , 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris.
Subs: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Huw Taylor, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Adam Warren.
Kings – 15 Yaw Penxe, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Harlon Klassen, 12 Berton Klassen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Masixole Banda, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Justin Forwood.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 JC Astle, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Martin du Toit, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
In two of the biggest fixtures of the season, the Glasgow Warriors hosts rivals Munster, while defending champions Leinster take on runners-up the Scarlets in a replay of last season’s final.
Ulster welcome Edinburgh to the Kingspan Stadium, Connacht host Zebre and the Cardiff Blues face a tricky trip to Treviso.
Photo: Huw Evans/Gallo Images