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Preview: Cheetahs v Brumbies

16th May 2014 09:36

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Willie le Roux Cheetahs v Brumbies SR 2013

Bloemfontein showdown: Cheetahs v Brumbies

The Brumbies kick of their tour to South Africa with a tricky assignment against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The men from Canberra are on a high after securing a morale-boosting home victory over the tournament's pacesetters, the Sharks, last weekend. That result means that the Brumbies, who are in third place on the table, are now just two poins behinf the Sharks.

The last time the Brumbies visited Bloemfontein was in 2011 when the team was soundly beaten, 47-36. Despite finishing fast that evening, the Brumbies could not overcome a 32-24 half-time deficit.

Then-Cheetah, Sias Ebersohn landed 21 points off the boot, with the Cheetahs scoring three tries and a 60 metre field goals inside the first 11 minutes to stun the Brumbies into submission.

The Cheetahs are currently running 14th, with two wins from their 12 appearances in 2014. But having created history in 2013 and gone inches from knocking the Brumbies off at home in a nail-biting Super Rugby quarter-final, the visitors will not be taking the Cheetahs lightly.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské expects a tough challenge against the visitors but is still optimistic about his side's chances.

"The Brumbies are a quality side, they showed that against the Sharks last weekend," he said.

"They don't have many weaknesses. Their pack is solid and their set-piece play is really good, while they play with lots of continuity, manage to get quick ball at the breakdown and have a good defence.

"The Brumbies count amongst the frontrunners in the competition, but having said that, we will always give ourselves a chance in Bloemfontein and we know we can win here, even though it won't be easy.

"We need to cut out the soft moments, such as the two tries the Force scored against us when we had the ball. If you want to win at this level, you simply have to concentrate for the full 80 minutes."

The Brumbies showed against the Sharks, in last weekend 16-9 victory, that they can grind out a result but don't expect that to happen this weekend. The Cheetahs enjoy a free-flowing style of play and the men from Canberra also have several game-breakers in their line-up.

Keep an eye on Henry Speight, who is back in the run-on side after recovering from a broken jaw sustained in Round Five against the Waratahs. Speight is one of the best finishers in the competition and will be keen to impress after his lengthy stint on the sidelines.

Other players who should also make a big impact are Fotu Auelua who is a superb ball-carrier and Christian Lealiifano who is one of the tournament's best goal-kickers.

Form: With two wins from 12 matches, the Cheetahs have the least victories in the entire competition. They beat the Bulls, in Bloemfontein, in Round Two and went on an eight-match winless streak before beating the Stormers in Round 11. In recent weeks, they have struggled, however, and lost their last two matches to the Bulls, in Pretoria, and at home against the Western Force. The Brumbies returned to the victory trail with a 16-9 triumph over the Sharks in Canberra last weekend after suffering back-to-back losses to the Chiefs and Crusaders in Rounds 11 and 12. The men from Canberra have won eight of their 11 matches this season and in eight previous matches against the Cheetahs, they have been victorious on six occasions and the Cheetahs twice. The average score between these sides is 36-25 to the Brumbies.

Previous results:

2013: Brumbies won 15-13 in Canberra (play-off)
2012: Brumbies won 24-23 in Canberra
2011: Cheetahs won 47-36 in Bloemfontein
2010: Brumbies won 61-15 in Canberra

Prediction: This could be the closest match of the weekend but, in the end, the visitors should pull it off. Brumbies to win a high-scoring affair by two points!

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Boela Serfontein, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Waltie Vermeulen, 21 Renier Botha, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Raymond Rhule.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Fotu Auelua, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Pat McCabe

Date: Saturday, May 17
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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PosTeamPPts
1Waratahs1658
2Brumbies1645
3Western Force1640
4Reds1628
5Melbourne Rebels1621