The Toyota Cheetahs welcome Glasgow Warriors to Bloemfontein in a match-up that promises drama, quality and plenty of points.
Last year the Warriors were irresistible in South Africa, running up a half century of points in a 52-24 triumph, and though the result kept up their perfect record against the Cheetahs, all four Guinness PRO14 clashes between the sides have been fiercely contested.
What better time, therefore, to revisit the two sides’ 2017 thriller that went right down to the wire, when the Warriors edged past their opponents 29-26 at Toyota Stadium.
Speedy Cheetahs pace past physical Warriors
Two seasons ago the Glasgow Warriors set foot in Bloemfontein to play their first ever game on South African soil.
Arriving with confidence high, having won all five of their opening games of the campaign, they faced a Cheetahs side who were unbeaten at home having already toppled Zebre, Leinster and Ospreys.
The Warriors got their first taste of Southern Hemisphere rugby after 11 minutes as a quickly-taken Cheetahs penalty resulted in Sergeal Petersen racing over in the corner following a fast-flowing backs move.
After patient work the Warriors hit back through persistent forwards play – the impressive Callum Gibbins bundling over from close distance to level the scores at 10-10.
They were not level for long though and despite all their pressure Glasgow went into the break 17-10 down.
The Cheetahs turned the ball over just outside their 22 and speculatively launched a kick upfield where Rosco Specman was on hand to chase, gather and display a blistering turn of pace to get away from the Glasgow defence and score.
Russell magic sets up stunning finale
The Cheetahs now had the momentum and came out firing after half-time, looking certain to extend their lead at the beginning of the second 40.
But just as they looked set to score again, Ruaridh Jackson intercepted a loose offload and ran almost the entire length of the field where he found Finn Russell and Callum Gibbins in support, the latter crossing to level the scores.
Fly-half Ernst Stapelberg regained and extended the lead for the Cheetahs through a pair of penalties, but with just 10 minutes to play, Henry Pyrgos wrenched the visitors into the lead.
Russell initially dinked a delicate chip over the on-rushing Cheetahs defence for Jackson to collect and pass to Pyrgos.
The substitute scrum-half then exchanged offloads with Nikola Matawalu and crossed under the posts before Russell added the extras.
Warriors fans would have feared the worst when D’Arcy Rae failed to roll away from a ruck, gifting a penalty in front of the posts that Stapelberg duly converted five minutes from time.
But two minutes later Russell engineered a gap for Sam Johnson to burst through and reach the Cheetahs 22-metre-line.
Russell gathered and showed phenomenal awareness and nerve under pressure to spot an overlap and plant a cross-field kick into Rob Harley’s path.
The substitute flanker gathered and scored in the corner to seal the bonus point and seal the spoils in what was a true epic.
Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!
General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.