The Toyota Cheetahs host Treviso’s Benetton Rugby for the very first time on Saturday, with the Italian side travelling for a historic occasion at Toyota Stadium.
The only Guinness PRO14 match to be played on Saturday will see the Cheetahs attempt to reverse the result from the only previous time these sides have faced each other – Benetton winning 27-21 in Italy last season.
What’s at stake?
Both of these sides fell to narrow defeats in Round 8, Benetton going down to Ulster 15-10 and the Cheetahs being pipped by Munster – 30-26.
The South African outfit will be determined to make their presence felt as the Guinness PRO14 resumes after a break, and the Free Staters will look to build on their encouraging win record against Italian opposition, showing two victories in three matches.
Team news (Toyota Cheetahs): Rhyno Smith will begin Saturday’s match on the right wing, with William Small-Smith providing cover on the bench. Justin Basson and Walt Steenkamp will form a lock partnership while Daniel Maartens is the starting No.8. Rudi Paige will be making his Guinness PRO14 debut if he enters the action from the bench.
Team news (Benetton Rugby): Angelo Esposito starts at full-back and is joined in the back three by wings Marco Zanon and Monty Ioane, while Tommaso Iannone and Ignacio Brex are in the centres. Dewaldt Duvenage goes at scrum-half, inside Ian McKinley, while the front row will be made up by Nicola Quaglio, Tomas Baravalle and Giuseppe Di Stefano.
Talking Points: Cheetahs head coach Franco Smith commented: “I believe Benetton is a positive side and we can exhibit a good brand of rugby that everybody loves. We are looking forward to Saturday.
“Marnus van der Merwe and Rudi Paige bring new energy to the team.”
Key battle: If Benetton are going to stop the Cheetahs on home turf then they are going to need to stop the Guinness PRO14 top tryscorer – Rabs Maxwane. The South African speedster has seven tries already and starts this one on the left wing, opposite Benetton’s Marco Zanon. Maxwane has also made the most clean breaks in the Championship – 15 – and will likely need a close eye kept on him by the whole Benetton team.
Key stat: The two sides have met just once before, in round 13 last season in Treviso with the home side winning 27-21
Did you know? The South Africans played three matches against Italian opponents last season, winning two and losing one.
Toyota Cheetahs: Malcolm Jaer, Rhyno Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Nico Lee, Rabz Maxwane, Tian Schoeman, Shaun Venter (c), Daniel Maartens, Junior Pokomela, Gerhard Olivier, Walt Steenkamp, Justin Basson, Aranos Coetzee, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche
Replacements: Marnus van der Merwe, Charles Marais, Erich de Jager, Sinthu Manjezi, Abongile Nonkontwana, Rudi Paige, Louis Fouche, William Small-Smith
Benetton Rugby: Angelo Esposito, Marco Zanon, Tommaso Iannone, Ignacio Brex, Monty Ioane, Ian McKinley, Dewaldt Duvenage, Marco Barbini (c), Michele Lamaro, Giovanni Pettinelli, Federico Ruzza, Irné Herbst, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Tomas Baravalle, Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: Hame Faiva, Derrick Appiah, Marco Riccioni, Niccolò Cannone, Marco Lazzaroni, Giorgio Bronzini, Antonio Rizzi, Alberto Sgarbi
TV: Kick-off 2.30pm, live on Premier Sports, eir Sport and SuperSport
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Ben Crouse, Jaco Kotze (both SARU)
TMO: Johan Greefe (SARU)
Daniel Maartens grabbed two second half tries as Toyota Cheetahs got their second win of the season with a 31-25 victory over Benetton Rugby.
The back-and-forth match saw the lead change hands six times before the South African side snatched it at the end.
Marco Zanon and Dewaldt Duvenage had first half scores for Benetton to help them lead at the break, with Nico Lee getting Cheetahs only try in opening period.
Shaun Venter added to the two tries from Maartens in the second half for the South African side as they got a bonus point win. Fly-half Ian McKinley registered the Italian sides’ only second half try.
Powerful play from the Benetton pack saw them rumble up to the Cheetah’s line inside the first three minutes, the ball went through the phases before Zanon beat two men from five metres out and touched it down with an extended arm.
Cheetahs had a response almost instantly thanks to a try from Lee, the inside centre ran a beautiful diagonal line and was fed by scrum-half Venter after a line-out to cruise in under the posts, with Tian Schoeman adding the extras.
Fly-half McKinley added three points for the Italian side after 14 minutes to nudge them back in front and Benetton extended their lead just before the half hour mark.
The forwards kept the ball alive in the tackle, with offloads by Marco Barbini and Federico Ruzza releasing scrum-half Duvenage to touch down.
Benhard Janse van Rensburg looked to have reduced the gap between the sides when he touched down in the corner for Cheetahs but his side was ruled to have passed the ball forward.
The home side had dominated in the scrum at the set piece but the introduction of Marco Riccioni at tighthead reversed their fortunes before the break. He came on for Giuseppe di Stefano and made an instant impact, winning a penalty at the set-piece for his side.
The home side continued to carry powerfully early in the second half.
Cheetahs offloaded as they went through the 22, before Venter’s show and go gave him enough room to touch down, with Schoeman adding the extras to make it 15-14.
A McKinley penalty extended the Italian side’s lead but it didn’t last long with the South African side went back in front through Maartens.
He rolled off the back of a maul from less from than a metre out after some powerful approach play after a driven line-out making it 21-18 to the hosts.
The game continued to go back-and-forth and this time it was McKinley who scored a try and then kicked the conversion to make it 25-21.
But more powerful forward play paid off for Cheetahs, as another rolling maul ended with Maartens pouncing off the back to score.
Replacement Louis Fouche added a further two points with the boot to take the South African side ahead 28-25, before he added a second penalty just before the end to secure the match.