MARIETTE ADAMS looks ahead to this weekend’s Pro14 matches in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
CHEETAHS vs BENETTON TREVISO, Saturday, 2:30pm
This is likely to be one of the Cheetahs’ most challenging cross-conference fixtures.
Franco Smith’s men remain rooted to the foot of the Conference A table having suffered six defeats in eight games.
On attack, the Cheetahs are a sight to behold and when they get it all right on the day, they can outperform some of the best teams in this competition. But until Smith sorts out his team’s horrible tendency to fade away in the latter stages of a contest, they will continue to be second best.
Most of the Cheetahs’ previous matches were lost deep in the second half, a period in the game when they have been physically outmuscled by their European counterparts.
As for Treviso, they are a team on the rise. Unlike the Cheetahs, the high-tempo game they have employed has yielded some positive results and they will set out to enforce that ball-in-hand approach in this game too.
In a way, that may play into the Cheetahs’ hands. They thrive in open play and if they use turnover possession to good effect, they can hit Treviso on the counter.
Irrespective of the outcome, this match is likely to produce an above average number of tries.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (c), 8 Daniel Maartens, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sinthu Manjezi, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Rudi Paige, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 William Small-Smith.
Benetton Treviso – 15 Angelo Esposito, 14 Marco Zanon, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini (c), 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Giuseppe Di Stefano, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Nicola Quaglio.
Subs: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Alberto Sgarbi.
KINGS vs CONNACHT, Sunday, 3pm
Before the break in competition, the Kings squandered yet another chance to collect maximum log points, this time against Leinster, who held on for a 38-31 win in Port Elizabeth.
Notwithstanding the agonising defeat, the performance should be classified as one of the Kings’ best this season. To put it into context, Leinster are the reigning champions who had conceded 11 tries in seven games before that clash. The Kings put five tries past Leinster’s sturdy defence, made more metres (467 to 452), passes (184 to 164), turnovers (18 to 15) and tackles (168 to 152).
Should the Kings produce a similar shift against Connacht, especially a likewise dominant set-piece display, they’ll be in with a great shout to pull off a win despite Connacht’s favourites tag for this clash.
The Kings will also be hoping the Cheetahs beat Treviso, which would see Deon Davids’ men close in on the Italian side in the Conference B standings.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Cyril-John Velleman, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Lupumlo Mguca.
Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Andries van Schalkwyk, 20 Martinus Burger, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Tertius Kruger.
Connacht – 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Tom Farrell, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler (c), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley
Subs: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 James Mitchell, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Darragh Leader.
Conference A leaders the Glasgow Warriors host the Cardiff Blues; Leinster – sans Test players – take on Welsh region the Ospreys, with one log point separating them; while the high-profile clash between Ulster and the Scarlets will determine who takes second position behind Leinster.
Munster are expected to come away with all five points on offer when they travel to Italy to face the struggling Zebre, and Edinburgh will aim to improve their standing in Conference B with a victory against the Dragons.