Preview: Free State Cheetahs v Griquas

Date published: September 30 2016

The Free State Cheetahs will try to finish their league campaign on a high when they host Griquas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Under the guidance of head coach Franco Smith, the Cheetahs have dominated the competition this year and they head in to this clash brimming with confidence after winning all seven of their previous matches.

Griquas are currently in sixth place in the standings and have a mathematical chance of securing a semi-final berth. This match could be a meaningless one, however, as they will know if they still have a chance to sneak into the semi-finals by the time their match kicks off.

This is because their rivals for a play-off berth, Western Province and the Golden Lions play their matches – against the Boland Cavaliers and the Sharks – on Friday night.

The clash between the Cheetahs and Griquas could serve as a thrilling finish to the pool stages of the competition depending on the outcome of those Friday’s matches. 

Griquas may still have hope of sneaking into the semi-final although this will require WP and the Lions to suffer defeats.

History favours the Cheetahs, who last suffered a defeat against Griquas in the competition in 2011. But Griquas will draw confidence from the fact that they defeated the hosts 44-31 in Kimberley in the Currie Cup Qualifier. Regardless of the outcome, the home team will host a home semi-final next week as they have already secured the top spot on the table.

Griquas head coach Peter Engeldow has rung the changes to his starting line-up for this clash. Engeldow made nine alterations to the run-on side which conceded a half century of points to Western Province in Kimberley last weekend.

In the back-line, Alshaun Bock replaces JW Jonker on the wing while Anton Swarts comes in for Clinton Swart at inside centre and Reniel Botha takes over from Rudi van Rooyen at scrum-half.

Jonathan Janse van Rensburg takes over from Sias Koen on the blindside flank. Vsn Rensburg moves to the side of the scrum from number eight where Jason Fraser takes over.

There's a new second row pairing with Mzwanele Zito and Jonathan Adendorf replacing Wandile Putuma and Hilton Lobberts respectively while Liam Hendricks (prop) and Marius Fourie (hooker) replace Stephan Kotze and AJ le Roux in the front row.

Prediction: The home side will do everything to protect their unbeaten record and should win this one comfortably. Free State Cheetahs to win by 12 points.

The teams:

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 William Small-Smith

Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Liam Hendricks, 2 Marius Fourie, 1 Steph Roberts 
Replacements: 16 Sidney Tobias, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Steven Meiring, 19 Thabo Mabuza, 20 Eric Zana, 21 Ntabeni Dukisa, 22 Steven Moir

Date: Saturday, 1 October 2016
Time: 14:00 (12:00 GMT) 
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner