Preview: Free State Cheetahs v Griquas

Date published: September 18 2015

The Free State Cheetahs will be keen to get their campaign back on track when they host Griquas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The Cheetahs trailing in fifth position in the standings with 12 points from six matches, played and suffered a humiliating 32-24 loss to the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

What made matters worse is that the Kings – who with that result picked up their first win of the campaign – played for nearly an entire half with 14 men after their centre JP du Plessis was red-carded.

The Cheetahs can expect a tough examination against a Griquas side who have their tails up after they also claimed their first Currie Cup triumph of the year against the Pumas last weekend.

The men from Kimberley delivered a superb performance and secured a try-scoring bonus point in that fixture.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has a potent backline who can score from anywhere on the field. Smith has a settled look to his side with his midfield combination of Rayno Benjamin and Francois Venter impressing throughout the season and fly-half Fred Zeilinga also delivering several solid performances.

Their finishing has let them down, however, which is surprising as they have potent finishers in Sergeal Petersen and Raymond Rhule.

The home side has been victorious in 39 of the 59 previous Currie Cup matches between these sides with Griquas winning 17 and three games finishing as draws.

The Cheetahs have won 10 of the last 11 encounters between these sides since July 2010 and lost only once.

The Griquas have made just one change to the side that beat the Pumas, with fit-again back rower RJ Liebenberg preferred to Johan Wessels in the back row.

Other than that, it's as you were with the team that downed the Pumas, while replacement prop Danie Mienie has shaken off a calf problem to take his place on the bench.

Prediction: Although this should be a close enocunter, the home side are due a win. Cheetahs to win by eight points!

The teams:

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys. 
Replacements: 16 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 17 Neil Rautenbach, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn.

Griquas: Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jacquin Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jaco Nepgen, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Dylon Frylink, 21 Gouws Prinsloo, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.

Date: Saturday, September 19
Venue: Free State Rugby Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Stephan Geldenhuys