Preview: Cheetahs v Sharks

Date published: October 9 2015

The Sharks travel to Bloemfontein to face the Free State Cheetahs for a do-or-die Currie Cup encounter on Saturday.

With the Sharks just two points behind the fourth placed Cheetahs on the Currie Cup table, a place in the semi-finals is up for grabs. The winner has the arduous task of travelling to Johannesburg to play the so far undefeated Golden Lions.

The home side is coming off a bruising encounter with the Pumas, who fought valiantly in a 37-all draw.

Meanwhile, the Sharks have some momentum after beating the Griquas by 25 points in Kimberley.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has kept the backline intact for the clash, However, changes amongst the forwards include Boom Prinsloo at number six, who replaces Gerhard Olivier.

De Wet Kruger moves out for Neill Jordaan at eighth man, while BG Uys swaps place in the starting line-up with Teunis Nieuwoudt moving to the bench.

For the vistors, Garth April will start at full-back. As a result, veteran Odwa Ndungane moves from 15 to right wing.
Hooker Kyle Cooper slips out of the match day 23 due to injury and he is replaced by Monde Hadebe on the bench.

The importance of the match is not lost on Sharks assistant coach Ryan Strudwick

"This match is effectively a knock-out quarter-final with everything to play for," said Strudwick.

"Free State will be tough, we know their threats, they like to throw the ball around and they'll come at us. And like us, they need to win, they've had a pretty similar season to us and it will be a very tough challenge, especially going up to Bloemfontein.

With everything at stake, they'll definitely bring their 'A' game this weekend."

Prediction: This is a tough one to pick as the teams have yet to face each other this season. However, with the Sharks having a settled team and coming off a big win, the men from South Africa's east coast will win a nail-biter by four points!

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit,1 BG Uys
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Niel Marais, 23 AJ Coertzen

Sharks: 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 David McDuling, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Christiaan de Bruin, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams 22 Waylon Murray.

Date: Saturday, October 10
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 16:05 local (14:05 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Rico van der Hoven
Television match official: JJ Wagner