Cheetahs bring out the big guns

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:22
Large francois venter cheetahs 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith wasted no time in drafting in some big guns for their penultimate Currie Cup league match.

The table-topping Cheetahs travel to Nelspruit on Friday to take on the winless Pumas.

Captain Francois Venter returns at outside from a lengthy injury lay-off, with Nico Lee moving to inside centre and William Small-Smith dropping down to the replacement bench.

Sergeal Petersen returns on the right wing after also missing a number of matches through injury.

Smith, who made it clear he will not be resting any players in the run-in to the play-offs, made a number of injury-enforced changes.

Tom Botha underwent surgery his week, after having torn his bicep in the 37-29 win over the Golden Lions last Thursday. Johan Coetzee will start at tighthead prop.

Hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld injured his rib cartilage against the Lions and Jacques du Toit will wear the No.2 jersey.

The third injury-enforced change will see Raymond Rhule sit out with a calf strain and Ryno Benjamin playing on left wing.

In the only change not related to injury - a player coming back or being ruled out - Charles Marais will replace Retshegofaditswe Nche at loosehead prop.

The Cheetahs coach said there was a "huge danger" in resting players at this stage of the season, despite his team having already booked their place in the Currie Cup play-offs.

The unbeaten Cheetahs require just two points from their last two league matches - against the Pumas this week and the Griquas a week later - to secure the top spot in the standings, which will guarantee them home ground advantage in the semifinals and possible Final.

"It is a short Currie Cup competition [just eight matches for each team] and it is important to maintain our momentum and improve the quality of our game," Smith told rugby365.

"We will continue to field the best available team.

"One or two players will get some game time to ensure that, when we get to the play-offs, everybody had enough game time."

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Armandt Koster, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 William Small-Smith.

Date: Friday, September 23
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 18.45 (16.45 GMT)
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Ricus van der Hoven
TMO: Johan Greeff

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 November 2017
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
Ulster v Treviso 19h05 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leinster v Dragons 19h35 RDS Stadium
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h45 Kingston Park
Sat, 25 November 2017
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 12h45 Welford Road
Bath v Harlequins 12h45 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Edinburgh
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 17h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
Sun, 26 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Liberty Stadium
Kings v Scarlets 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 13h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Allianz Park
London Irish v Wasps 15h00 Madejski Stadium
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26