The Southern Kings will target a strong performance in their final PRO14 home game, while the Cheetahs will look to bounce back in Bloemfontein when they host Welsh sides, Ospreys and the Dragons respectively, in the penultimate pool round this weekend.
There may not be much more than pride at stake for the two South African teams, but a handful of players are in the running for the Dacia Ironman Award, which celebrates the player who has accumulated the most minutes on the field over the 21 pool rounds.
The Cheetahs’ Tian Schoeman, Rabz Maxwane, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, William Small-Smith and Junior Pokomela, and Yaw Penxe and Masixole Banda from the Southern Kings are among the top players in contention for the award.
Kings look to please fans against Ospreys
The Southern Kings are determined to give a strong account of themselves in their final home match of the season in front of their home fans against the Ospreys at the Madibaz Stadium on Friday (kick-off 19:35).
The team came within minutes of registering their third victory of the season last week at the Nelson Mandela University, but a late penalty goal by die Dragons forced them to settle for a draw – a result they will want to make amends for this week. The draw, however, ensured that they remain unbeaten in their last two home games.
The men from the Eastern Cape will face a stern challenge against Ospreys, who still have a mathematical chance of advancing to the playoff stages if they win both their remaining games with bonus points, and a number of other results go in their favour.
The Southern Kings’ desire to remain off the foot of the Conference B log table will also be in the back of their minds, as the Dragons will enter the second-last pool round only one point behind.
Deon Davids’ team have scored six more tries than Ospreys this season, but the visitors’ defence has been more effective, meaning the hosts will have to deliver an effective display all round to emerge victorious.
The teams have only met once before the in the competition, last year in Swansea, and the result was a 26-12 win in Ospreys’ favour.
15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Harlon Klaasen, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JC Astle (captain), 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni. Replacements: 16 Alandré van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Stephan De Wit, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Meli Rokoua.
15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Luke Price, 9 Aled Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith. Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Dan Lydiate, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Luke Morgan.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Ruhan Meiring (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Cheetahs aim to bounce back against Dragons
The Cheetahs will have their sights set on a morale-boosting victory when they host the Dragons at the Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday (19:35) following a disappointing 31-14 defeat against Ospreys last week.
With two home matches remaining in the competition – the last of which is a South African derby against the Southern Kings – Franco Smith’s men will target a strong finish to the season.
The Free State side have performed better than the Welshmen in the PRO14 this season with six victories and 36 log points in their 19 matches, to four wins and 21 points by the visitors, while they boast a far better attacking record with 66 tries to the Dragons’ 32.
The teams, however, have been closely matched on defence, with the Cheetahs conceding two more tries so far so far in the competition, but with the Dragons still in the hunt for their first away win, and the team inspired by an 18-18 draw against the Southern Kings, it could be a cracker.
The Cheetahs registered a 29-17 victory against the Dragons in their only outing up until now in Newport last season, and they will look to maintain their dominance over the side as they go in search of their first home win since 2 February.
Teams to be announced
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (IRFU), Griffin Colby (SARU)
TMO: Johan Greeff (SARU)
Other Round 20 matches (SA kick-off times):
Friday, 12 April:
19h00: Benetton v Munster - Stadio Monigo, Treviso
20h35: Edinburgh v Ulster - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Saturday, 13 April:
16h00: Connacht v Cardiff Blues – The Sportsground, Galway
16h00: Leinster v Glasgow Warriors - RDS Arena, Dublin
18h15: Scarlets v Zebre - Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli