MARIETTE ADAMS looks ahead to this weekend’s Pro14 matches involving the Kings and Cheetahs.
KINGS vs OSPREYS (Friday, 7:35pm)
Like they’ve done throughout the season, the Kings will probably mount a competitive challenge before fading in the final quarter.
The Ospreys are still in the playoff race and will be determined to collect maximum log points, while there is only pride at stake for the Kings. Deon Davids’ team are a point ahead of the Dragons in Conference B and will hope to avoid the wooden spoon.
There are five changes to the Kings’ lineup, most notably the inclusion of highly rated centre S’bura Sithole. In his first game of the season, Sithole’s midfield battle with the Test-capped Cory Allen will be pivotal to his team’s chances of causing an upset.
Kings – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Harlon Klaasen, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JC Astle, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Subs: 16 Alandré van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Stephan de Wit, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Meli Rokoua.
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 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Subs: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Dan Lydiate, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Luke Morgan.
CHEETAHS vs DRAGONS (Saturday, 7:35pm)
While the Cheetahs cannot qualify for the playoffs, they will want to beat the Dragons, who are rooted to the foot of Conference B, and help wing Rabz Maxwane equal and then break the tournament record for Pro14 tries in a season (14). Maxwane has struggled for form recently, with his last try coming against Leinster six weeks ago.
The Cheetahs suffered a setback when centre William Small-Smith was ruled out with an injury. His place in the team is taken by Tian Meyer, who also reclaims the captaincy from Shaun Venter.
The Dragons have Zane Kirchner on the right wing, while prop Brok Harris is on the bench.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Tian Meyer (c), 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Aranos Coetzee, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Louis Fouché, 23 Darron Adonis.
Dragons – 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Zane Kirchner, 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 Lewis Evans, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee (c), 1 Ryan Bevington.
Subs: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Max Williams, 20 Huw Taylor, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Will Talbot-Davies.
Edinburgh will host Ulster in what could be a season-defining clash. A win for Edinburgh will lift them up to second in Conference B heading into the last round of regular-season matches next week, while a win for Ulster will all but secure them a place in the playoffs.
Elsewhere, Treviso take on Munster at home, and third-ranked Connacht square off against their closest Conference A rivals the Cardiff Blues, who will be aiming to overtake their hosts on the log.
The cross-conference clash between the two table-topping sides – Leinster and the Glasgow Warriors – is the most highly anticipated game of the round, while the Scarlets should claim a comfortable victory against minnows Zebre.
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images