The Cheetahs should secure their first away win in the Pro14 when they take on Zebre in Parma on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
ZEBRE vs CHEETAHS
The two-week break in competition couldn’t have come at a better time for the Cheetahs, who are third in Conference A of the Pro14. While the European teams were competing in the Champions or Challenge Cups, Free State were able to field their strongest possible lineup for the last round of the Currie Cup in an attempt to make the playoffs.
Their failure to do so could be a blessing in disguise for the team from Bloemfontein as they’ve had an extra week’s rest.
Zebre, who are five log points behind the Cheetahs, endured an arduous fortnight, with two defeats in the Challenge Cup.
The Cheetahs have scored 25 tries, the second most in this season’s Pro14, while Zebre have leaked the third most (21). Defence remains an area of concern for the Cheetahs, but they have grown in stature and confidence as the competition has worn on and should do the double against the Italians.
In team news, Duncan has recalled wing Raymond Rhule, flank Junior Pokomela and loosehead prop Ox Nche to the starting lineup, but the biggest boost is the return of Fred Zeilinga. The flyhalf has recovered from a hip injury, sustained during the latter stages of Super Rugby, that required surgery.
If the first fixture between these teams – a 13-try thriller in Bloemfontein – is anything to go by, this contest won’t lack action or drama.
Zebre – TBC
Cheetahs – 15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Oupa Mohoje, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Nico Lee.
GLASGOW WARRIORS vs KINGS
The Kings are still searching for that elusive first Pro14 win and are the only team yet to register a single log point. This round-seven encounter will be their steepest challenge yet.
The Glasgow Warriors were title favourites coming into the tournament and have justified that tag with six wins from as many games.
The Kings simply do not have the manpower to stay with, or even limit, a Test-laden Warriors team at the Scotstoun Stadium.
Expect Dave Rennie’s men to put on an exhibition and win handsomely in front of their home crowd.
Glasgow Warriors – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Matt Smith, 6 Robert Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Alex Allan. Subs: 16 George Turner, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Lewis Wynne, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Stafford McDowall, 23 Lelia Masaga.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira. Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Rowan Gouws, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel.
Connacht host Munster at the Sportsground in Galway; the Ospreys will welcome the Dragons for their cross-conference clash; Edinburgh will be out to settle a score against Treviso, who beat them in September; and the Scarlets will square off against the Cardiff Blues.
The match of the round is Ulster vs Leinster. They are second and third respectively in Conference B, but level on 23 log points.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images