Sublime Leinster await as Cheetahs chase a second play-off

Sublime Leinster await as Cheetahs chase a second play-off

Leinster have been in sublime form this season with 14 victories in 16 pool matches, and 11 bonus points for tries, and they will look to continue this form against the Cheetahs who need to return to their winning ways to remain in contention for a Pro14 playoff spot, their second in two years.

The sides meet in Dublin on Friday (Kick-off 21:35).

Meanwhile the Southern Kings will face a tough test against the Cardiff Blues in Wales respectively in their last tour match on Saturday, kick-off also at 21:35.

♦ With five pool games remaining – including this match – for the Cheetahs to force their way into the top three in Conference A for a playoff spot, and the team already trailing their pool contenders, the Cardiff Blues and Munster, by six log points, they will enter the clash under pressure to register a victory to avoid slipping too far behind as the pool stages draw to a close.

The Cheetahs will have to be sharp on attack and defence from the outset, as Leinster are the only team to have scored more than 500 points this season, while they conceded 207 points – only seven more than Munster, who boast the best defensive record in the competition.

With the Cheetahs’ Rabz Maxwane and Shaun Venter being among the top try scorers in the competition, and Tian Schoeman fifth on the list of top points scorers, however, Leinster will be wary of the threat the visitors pose.

 

The teams have crossed paths only once before in the competition in 2017, with the Cheetahs winning that encounter 38-19 in Bloemfontein.

 

The Cheetahs have limited the changes to their team for the last tour match with the Glasgow Warriors their net fixture in three weeks time in Bloemfontein.

Cheetahs team ‒

15 Louis Fouche, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabs Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Marnus van der Merwe, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Shaun Venter

Can Southern Kings give Cardiff the blues?

 

The Southern Kings take on the Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday (kick-off 21:35), and with the hosts facing immense pressure from Connacht, Ospreys and the Cheetahs for a playoff spot in Conference A, they will target a bonus-point victory in front of their home crowd.

 

It will be a big challenge for the Southern Kings, as the Cardiff Blues have been more effective on attack and defence this season. The men from Port Elizabeth, however, will draw inspiration from the fact that the hosts have only scored two more tries than them this season.

 

That said, they will have to maintain their composure on defence as the Cardiff Blues have conceded half the number of tries in the last 16 matches. The Welshmen have been in solid form at home this season, where they suffered only one defeat by four points, which is a track-record they will be determined to keep intact.

 

With speedsters Yaw Penxe and Bjorn Basson (who are among the top try scorers) and Masixole Banda (who is the fourth highest points scorer in the competition) in their ranks, the Cardiff Blues will however not expect a walk in the park.

 

The Cardiff Blues won the previous and only encounter between the sides in Port Elizabeth 45-12 in April 2018.