Preview: Cheetahs v Stormers

Date published: May 1 2015

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The struggling Cheetahs host the South Africa's conference leaders the Stormers in what should be an entertaining clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The Stormers moved to the top of the South African Conference after securing a narrow 15-13 victory over the Bulls last weekend and will look to consolidate that position over their hosts who are languishing in 12th spot on the table.

In that clash over the Bulls, the Stormers showed why their scrum is so highly-rated this year. The Cape Town-based outfit destroyed their opponents at the set-piece and 12 of their 15 points came after the Bulls were penalised for scrum infringements.

The Cheetahs scrum – with a 80 percent success rate – is currently rated as the worst in the competition so don't be surprised if the visitors use this facet of play as an attacking platform.

Naka Drotske's troops are also the team who have beaten the least defenders (114) and made the least metres (3163) and carries (770) on attack so far this season.

Although the Stormers are in a better position on the table, they suffered a 35-22 defeat when these sides met in Bloemfontein last year.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee knows playing the Cheetahs on their home turf will be a daunting task.

“We will have the same mindset for this weekend as we do for all South African derbies," he said.

"We understand how tough these games are and we know we need to pitch up.

“The Cheetahs pushed the in-form Lions in Johannesburg last week, they’re a good side – especially in Bloemfontein – and we know this will be a tough match.”

The last time these teams met: The Stormers were in a rampant mood claiming a 33-0 win in a Round 15 clash at Newlands last year. As the scoreline suggests, the hosts dominated and Deon Fourie, Kobus van Wyk, Siya Kolisi and Sailosi Tagicakibau scored tries. The rest of the points came through kicks from Kurt Coleman and Peter Grant.

Players to watch: For the home side Joe Pietersen, who was at full-back against the Lions last weekend, is back at fly-half where he has featured in all his previous matches for the Cheetahs this season. He has limited success in the number 10 jersey but will be highly motivated to do well as he is facing his former side and will be determined to get the better of his former team-mates.

Stormers full-back Cheslin Kolbe was called up to one of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's training camps earlier this week. The diminutive number 15 has been an ever-present at the back for the men from the Cape and, despite coming off second best in some physical collisions, has a big heart and well and truly punches above his weight. Kolbe is devastating with ball in hand – especially from broken play – and solid under the high ball despite his height disadvantage.

Team news: Cheetahs boss Naka Drotske has made numerous changes to his starting line-up, with Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen and Michael van der Spuy all coming in. Blommetjies starts at full-back, as Joe Pietersen shifts to ten, while Michael van der Spury joins Francois Venter in the centres. Sergeal Petersen earns his first start for the franchise with Cornal Hendricks rested as part of his Springbok commitments. The pack is a little more familiar, although Caylib Oosthuizen comes in for Danie Minnie, while Coenie Oosthuizen might get the start at tighthead.

The Stormers have made three changes to their side that beat the Bulls last weekend. Amongst the backs, Dillyn Leyds returns on the left wing, with Pat Howard dropping out of the matchday 23 this week. Up front, prop Steven Kitshoff and lock Eben Etzebeth are being rested – the latter as part of the SA franchises' agreements with SA Rugby. Oli Kebble will start in Kitshoff’s place whilst Jean Kleyn will lines up alongside Ruan Botha in the second row. Prop Ali Vermaak and lock Manuel Carizza return to the matchday 23 this week via the bench, while starting tighthead prop Frans Malherbe and replacement scrum-half Louis Schreuder are both set to play their 50th matches for the Stormers.

Form: The Cheetahs have only won three of their 10 matches this season and despite finishing their Australasian tour with a win over the Western Force in Round Nine, they have lost their next two matches against the Reds and the Lions. The Stormers are on a high after beating the Waratahs and Force in Australia and then pipping the Bulls in a nailbiting encounter at Newlands last weekend.

Prediction: The visitors have their tails up and will continue with their winning run. It won't be easy but the Stormers will win by six points!

Previous results:

2014: Stormers won 33-0 in Cape Town
2014: Cheetahs won 35-22 in Bloemfontein
2013: Stormers won 28-3 in Cape Town
2013: Cheetahs won 26-24 in Bloemfontein
2012: Stormers won 13-6 in Bloemfontein
2012: Stormers won 16-14 in Cape Town
2011: Stormers won 44-34 in Bloemfontein
2011: Stormers won 21-15 in Cape Town

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen/Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Maks van Dyk/Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Danie Dames.

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Date: Saturday, May 2
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT, 3:05 NZST, 1:05 AEST)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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