In the first curtain raiser of the day which kicks off at 13:00 the SA Invitational XV Deaf team will be taking on the Blue Bulls Deaf team. The game will be last match of the inaugural Stones Cup tournament for deaf rugby teams.
At 15:00 the Toyota Free State XV will be taking on Griquas in a SuperSport Rugby Challenge warm-up game. Ivan Roux will provide entertainment at the Castle Deck after the match.
With only two matches remaining after this round, the Toyota Cheetahs are highly motivated to finish the competition on a memorable note.
Captain Shuan Venter and his side have been preparing for fierce competition from Ospreys, who are fighting for survival in the Conference A playoff race but the Toyota Cheetahs are aiming to win all of the remaining matches at home.
“We are a lot better than at the beginning of the season and our goal is to win all three matches at home.” Said Captain Shaun Venter. “We want to make the supporters proud.”
The teams have met three times before, with the Free Staters winning the clash in Bloemfontein in 2017, while Ospreys’ won the last two outings on their home patch. One of these victories, however, was by a single point, which will serve as extra inspiration for the home side.
The last time the Toyota Cheetahs registered a victory was in Bloemfontein on 2 February – which marked back-to-back home wins for them – and this will be a big talking point among Franco Smiths’ charges as they look to take advantage of a home stretch featuring three home games.
The Free Staters will enter the match with a superior attack after scoring 64 tries to Ospreys’ 40 this season, which will give them confidence, but they will need to support this with a tenacious defensive effort, as the visitors have conceded close to two tries fewer per match on average this season.
Speedster Rabz Maxwane, with an impressive 13 tries to his name, is currently still the top try-scorer in the competition with a five-try buffer over his closest rivals – a record he would undoubtedly like to extend as the pool rounds reach a conclusion.
Tian Schoeman, meanwhile, who is currently in fifth place on the list of the top points’ scorers with 96 points, will have his sights set on hitting triple digits this weekend.
Coach Franco Smith has announced his team for the clash with changes:
· Joseph Dweba will be the starting hooker with Marnus van der Merwe providing cover on the bench.
· Luan de Bruin and Aranos Coetzee switch places with De Bruin starting on tight head prop.
· Gerhard Olivier will be starting on left flanker.
· Jasper Wiese and Rudy Paige are new to the bench.
The following players are not eligible for team selection due to injury: Oupa Mohoje (knee), Aidon Davis (broken leg), Junior Pokomela (back), Schalk van der Merwe (groin).
Players on suspension: Nico Lee, Ox Nche
The Toyota Cheetahs will be back in Bloemfontein on Monday, 25 March. The next match is on Saturday, 6 April against Ospreys in Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein.
1. Charles Marais (35)
2. Joseph Dweba (16)
3. Luan de Bruin (9)
4. Sintu Manjezi (10)
5. Walt Steenkamp (16)
6. Gerhard Olivier (17)
7. Abongile Nonkontwana (12)
8. Henco Venter (20)
9. Shaun Venter (33) (C)
10. Tian Schoeman (18)
11. Rabz Maxwane (25)
12. Dries Swanepoel (5)
13. Benhard Janse van Rensburg (17)
14. William Small-Smith (33)
15. Malcolm Jaer (15)
16. Marnus van der Merwe (5)
17. Aranos Coetzee (40)
18. Reinach Venter (9)
19. JP du Preez (17)
20. Jasper Wiese (5)
21. Justin Basson (25)
22. Rudy Paige (7)
23. Louis Fouche (12)
· Guinness PRO14 caps indicated next the player’s name.
The referee for the match is John Lacey. He will be assisted by Sean Gallagher and Ben Crouse. TMO is Johan Greeff.