The Guinness PRO14 returns to South African soil for the first time this season for a battle between two of last season’s top three in Conference A.
Toyota Cheetahs impressed in their debut season last year, but Dave Rennie’s Glasgow Warriors stand firmly in the way of recapturing that form
What’s at stake
Glasgow’s perfect record, to the tune of a dramatic 27-26 win at Connacht and a statement 25-10 victory over Munster, will come under the microscope in the Cape.
The Cheetahs may have tasted defeat in their two outings, on the road to Munster and Ospreys, but boast a formidable record in Bloemfontein.
Team news (Cheetahs)
Cheetahs are battling an injury crisis at present – with 14 first-team players on the treatment table – which has forced Franco Smith into making wholesale changes to the pack.
There are six alterations in all for this weekend’s game, as Jasper Wiese’s shoulder knock brings Gerhard Oliver into the back row.
They are fielding an all-new front row in the shape of Charles Marais, Joseph Dweba and Aranos Coetzee, who replace Ox Nche, Jacques du Toit and Luan de Bruin.
Walt Steenkamp steps into the second row, with Justin Basson make way.
The backline largely remains, the only change seeing Shaun Venter dropping down to the bench for Tian Meyer who captains the side.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors)
By contrast, the Scots name a relatively settled side with Rennie making four changes from their Munster triumph.
Scrum-half Ali Price starts for the first time this season, as do Alex Dunbar and Ruaridh Jackson.
Adam Hastings starts in the half-back pairing with Price after his Man of the Match display against Munster, while Dunbar is partnered by Pete Horne in the centres.
There is just one change to the pack, Scott Cummings starting in the engine room with Rob Harley moving to the blindside flank.
On the bench, Huw Jones is fit to play and named in a Glasgow squad for the first time since April.
Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “They will be a different creature at home,.
“We beat them with three minutes to go and Munster kicked a late penalty to beat them and Leinster went there and lost.
“It is a challenge but we will be better than last week and there is a lot of competition for places and we are excited to be over here.”
Key battle: Rabs Maxwane vs Tommy Seymour
The best chance the Cheetahs have of hurting Glasgow is in broken play, where Maxwane can expect to come to the fore.
The 23-year-old impressed whenever he featured in his first Guinness PRO14 season last year, scoring five tries in six starts, and notched in the defeat to Dragons last week.
Seymour, however, is a grizzled operator on the provincial and international scene and the British and Irish Lion, who got off the mark with a try against Connacht in Round 1, will be confident of having the better of this battle.
Key fact: Glasgow inflicted Cheetahs’ first-ever defeat on home soil in Guinness PRO14 – a thrilling 29-26 triumph in Round 6 last season.
Did you know?: Cheetahs have lost their last three Guinness PRO14 encounters and have never lost four in a row.
Toyota Cheetahs: Malcolm Jaer, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Nico Lee, Rabz Maxwane, Tian Schoeman, Tian Meyer; Charles Marais, Joseph Dweba, Aranos Coetzee, Walt Steenkamp, JP du Preez, Gerhard Olivier, Junior Pokomela, Aidon Davis
Replacements: Jacques du Toit, Ox Nche, Gunther van Rensburg, Dennis Visser, Niell Jordaan, Marnus van der Merwe, Shaun Venter, Ryno Eksteen
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins, Adam Ashe
Replacements: George Turner, Alex Allan, D’Arcy Rae, Matt Fagerson, Chris Fusaro, George Horne, Nick Frisby, Huw Jones
TV: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein. Live on SuperSport, Free Sports and Eir Sport
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Andy Brace (IRFU), Cwengile Jadezweni (SARU)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)
Glasgow Warriors secured a third win of the season after Toyota Cheetahs Malcolm Jaer’s second half yellow card proved to be the vital turning point.
The visitors notched up five second half tries with Adam Hastings scoring an impressive 21 points, including his first try of the season, to inflict the Toyota Cheetahs fourth loss in a row.
Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie couldn’t have asked for a better start when Adam Hastings scored an impressive solo effort inside just 71 seconds with a bursting run through the Cheetahs pack.
But Glasgow’s lead quickly evaporated when D.T.H van der Merwe knocked on in the centre of the field and Benhard Janse Van Rensberg reacted quickest to feed William Small-Smith to cross the line for his fifth ever Guinness PRO14 try.
And the Cheetahs were swiftly in front on nine minutes as the South African’s countered to allow Ryno Eksteem to kick incredibly across the field and set up Jaer to score.
Van Rensberg kicked the conversion to put Cheetahs 12-7 ahead and the Bloemfontein side were soon handed another gift when Alex Dunbar’s sloppy high tackle led to the Scotsman receiving a yellow card on 13 minutes.
Despite having one man less, Hasting’s continued to pull the strings and the Warriors were duly rewarded when scrum-half Ali Price found the gap to score on his first start of the campaign. Hasting’s kicked for a 14-12 lead on 20 minutes.
Going against the grain, Cheetahs Nico Lee capitalised from a stunning Tiaan Schoeman run and offload to take a 19-14 advantage going into half-time after Schoeman’s successful kick.
Following the restart, the match hinged on one crucial moment when wing Jaer was carded for a bad tackle in the air on Tommy Seymour.
And Glasgow quickly made the man advantage count when the injured Seymour bounced back to score his second try of the season and his 38th of his career to regain the Warriors lead. Hasting’s added two more to go 21-19 up.
The South African’s punishment continued when relentless pressure inside the Cheetahs half allowed Price to score his second try of the match following a nice pick and run on 46 minutes.
The Warriors’ all-time top try scorer van der Merwe capitalised on Hasting’s pass to add a fifth try of the match and the third of the second half following the yellow card.
After Hasting’s notched up his fifth conversion of the match, Jaer slightly redeemed for his earlier error by securing a bonus point for the Cheetahs with Schoeman reducing the deficit to 24-35.
Glasgow nearly had another try but were denied through TMO, before Hasting’s opened a 14-point gap with a well struck penalty.
And Callum Gibbins, the day after his 29th birthday, secured his second try of the season and his eight in his last 18 appearance with Glasgow’s sixth try.
As the Cheetahs ran out of steam, Peter Horne scored in the corner to secure a 52-24 win and keep Glasgow top of Conference A as Hasting’s slotted his eighth successive kick of the match.