Planet Rugby

Preview: Highlanders v Cheetahs

08th March 2013 07:02

Share:

Ben Smith for Highlanders in 2012

Need a win: Highlanders

After losing their opener two weeks ago, the Highlanders are determined to bounce back with a win over the Cheetahs in Invercargill on Saturday.

The Dunedin-based franchise were amongst the pre-tournament favourites after coach Jamie Joseph bolstered his squad with several quality signings.

But they a suffered 41-27 drubbing against the Chiefs in their opener and despite picking up four points due to a bye last weekend will be eager to notch their first victory of the new campaign.

Brad Thorn's debut and the return of newly-appointed captain Andrew Hore will give the Highlanders a massive boost. The All Black duo's experience will prove invaluable, especially in the tight exchanges which was an area of concern for coach Joseph in previous campaigns.

Another worry is their defence which proved a liability in the loss against the defending champions and against the Cheetahs, who have several exciting runners, they will have to improve considerably in this department.

The Highlanders hold a huge psychological edge over their South African opponents, having won all seven of their previous encounters. However, on six of those seven occasions the Cheetahs lost by less than seven points and during their previous encounter, in Bloemfontein in 2012, the Highlanders had to dig deep before claiming a 36-33 win.

Despite losing 45-3 to the Chiefs last weekend the Cheetahs received plenty of praise for sticking to their expansive style of play for the full 80 minutes.

The boys from Bloemfontein - unlike most of the other South African teams - enjoy a free flowing game and this could make them dangerous.

They have a well balanced team, which includes strong ball carriers like Frans Viljoen and captain Adriaan Strauss up front as well as skillful backs like Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn and Raymond Rhule who are all capable moments of brilliance on attack.

However, goal-kicking is an area which needs improvement. Young fly-half Johan Goosen has been struggling with this aspect of his game since returning from a knee injury which kept him on the sidelines for four months.

They created several points-scoring opportunities against the Chiefs but poor finishing cost them dearly in the end - an aspect of their game which they cannot afford to repeat against the Highlanders.

Prediction: This match will be an entertaining spectacle as both teams enjoy running the ball from all areas. The home side's experience, especially in their forwards, should carry them through though. Highlanders to win by 12 points!

The teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Jake Paringatai, 7 John Hardie, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Chris King, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Shaun Treeby.

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Heinrich Brüssow, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smith, 22 Ryno Benjamin.

Date: Saturday, March 9
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 SA time; 06.35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , August 2
Waratahs vs Crusaders19:40
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 26
Crusaders 38 - 6 SharksCrusaders vs Sharks Report
Waratahs 26 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Saturday , July 19
Brumbies 32 - 30 ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Report
Sharks 31 - 27 HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 12
Crusaders 34 - 8 HighlandersCrusaders vs Highlanders Report
Reds 3 - 34 WaratahsReds vs Waratahs Report
Lions 60 - 25 CheetahsLions vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 10 - 34 SharksStormers vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 11
Blues 8 - 11 ChiefsBlues vs Chiefs Report
Brumbies 47 - 25 Western ForceBrumbies vs Western Force Report
Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne RebelsBulls vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Sunday , July 6
Waratahs 44 - 16 HighlandersWaratahs vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 5
Crusaders 21 - 13 BluesCrusaders vs Blues Report
Western Force 30 - 20 RedsWestern Force vs Reds Report
Stormers 16 - 0 BullsStormers vs Bulls Report
Cheetahs 27 - 20 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 4
Chiefs 24 - 16 HurricanesChiefs vs Hurricanes Report
Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne RebelsLions vs Melbourne Rebels Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 28
South Africa 55 - 6 ScotlandSouth Africa vs Scotland Report
More International Match results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 16 - 9 CrusadersHurricanes vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 39 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Western Force 14 - 40 BluesWestern Force vs Blues Report
Friday , June 27
Highlanders 29 - 25 ChiefsHighlanders vs Chiefs Report
Melbourne Rebels 20 - 36 RedsMelbourne Rebels vs Reds Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 21
Australia 39 - 13 FranceAustralia vs France Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00