Planet Rugby

Preview: Brumbies v Cheetahs

19th July 2013 07:30

Share:

Henry Speight and Willie le Roux for preview

Up in the air: Canberra result

The lowest ranked side travelling to the highest should mean one result - but there is more than a feeling this play-off isn't a foregone conclusion.

Why I hear you ask? Well, form for one thing.

3/1 underdogs seems quite high for a Cheetahs team coming off a win and bye week while their opponents enter following a defeat at the Force.

The Brumbies came off second best in almost all facets of play in Perth and, as a result, would have been put under the hammer at training this week. But as assistant coach Stephen Larkham said during the build-up, regular-season showings go out the window when it comes to the play-offs.

Head coach Jake White will hope to see a marked improvement or they will find themselves done for the campaign - it's as simple as that right now.

Subsequently he has called on the experience of George Smith - after he was semi rested last week - while Nic White's return at nine also helps them. White has been vital to their gameplan as his management and kicking option takes some of the pressure off both Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano. In truth, the scrum-half's return is critical and coach White's insistence on playing him "even if he is 90 percent fit" illustrates his importance to this team.

White's kicking will help their cause as consistently running at this Cheetahs defence doesn't seem to do much damage as Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne and Heinrich Brussow occupy three of the top six places in the leading tackler statistics in 2013. Robert Ebersohn is eleventh, although Raymond Rhule and the aforementioned centre are top of missed tackles - that may lead to Tevita Kuridrani and the back-three targeting them.

Elsewhere and the axing of Wallaby starter Joe Tomane in favour of veteran Clyde Rathbone says all you need to know about how the Brumbies fared in Perth. Heads have rolled.

The big question I suppose is whether that loss was a good or bad thing for the Brumbies as it could shore up their game going into the knockout stages. It is also possible the hangover of the Lions Tests had impacted on the likes of Lealiifano and Stephen Moore.

In contrast, the Cheetahs are fresh having shaken off any niggles during their week off, byes being a concept that haven't been kind to them in 2013. It's worth noting they played eleven straight rounds in the early season, which brings a further back pat to their achievements.

Such form has seen a changing of mindset as while Cheetahs victories have long been labelled 'upsets', that is now a tag they have shed themselves of. Should they make the semis, it would surely confirm their standing as one of Super Rugby's new heavyweights.

Factor in they've also been minus Johan Goosen. His absence has definitely slipped under the radar and it is interesting that this week's starting fly-half, Riaan Smit, was fourth pick in pre-season behind the Springbok, Burton Francis and Elgar Watts. He has done whatever has been asked of him by Naka Drotske and should handle the pressure just fine.

Smit will, however, need centre duo Ebersohn and Johann Sadie to be at the top of their games, which in truth they have been throughout 2013's campaign. Ebersohn, despite ongoing speculation regarding his playing future, is a quality number twelve while Sadie seems to be flourishing since settling down from a franchise-hopping early career.

Outside them comes wing Willie le Roux, whose high risk game creates a great deal more good than bad to this side. If the Bok shines, the Cheetahs' hopes improve dramatically and despite White's claim the visitors are conservative, a flowing game is what Drotske wants.

The Brumbies will in turn want to limit such fluidity in front of a sold-out home crowd as they return to knockout rugby for the first time in nine years. It should be a home victory and with it a trip to Loftus Versfeld to face the Bulls but with the Cheetahs 4 and 0 against Australian outfits this season, there is just that lingering doubt that the men from Bloemfontein have a chance - and as we have seen time and time again that is all this Cheetahs team needs.

Prediction: The Cheetahs are capable of winning this but I am expecting a Brumbies backlash and the hosts to face the Bulls in the semis. Jesse Mogg could well play a major role in how this one pans out while the back-row battle is also key. Brumbies by five!

The teams:

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy , 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Rayno Benjamin.

Date: Sunday, July 21
Kick-off: 16:10 local (07:10 BST, 06:10 GMT)
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)

By Adam Kyriacou
@PlanetRugbyAK

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay 36 - 14 WellingtonHawkes Bay vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411