Glasgow Warriors will be looking to solidify their position at the top of Conference A as the Guinness PRO14 enters its final stages.
Meanwhile, Toyota Cheetahs are looking to snap their three-game losing streak away from South African soil.
Entertaining rugby is almost a guarantee between these two sides with their three encounters so far all producing at least 55 points and six tries.
What’s at stake?
For Cheetahs it is still very mathematically possible for them to catch Connacht in third place in Conference A but results will have to go their way.
They will need to start their final run of four fixtures with a win in Glasgow to boost their hopes of closing the 11-point gap and making it to the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.
A slip-up from the Warriors could mean Munster leapfrog them to the top of the table, with their advantage over the Irish side just three points.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors)
Callum Gibbins will captain Glasgow Warriors against Toyota Cheetahs at Scotstoun Stadium as he returns to the starting line-up for the first time since January.
Matt Fagerson and Rob Harley join their captain in the back-row and pack down behind an unchanged lock pairing of Tim Swinson and Scott Cummings.
Fraser Brown starts at hooker having come off the bench for Scotland in their thrilling 38-38 draw with England in the Calcutta Cup last weekend. Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson are named either side of him.
Pete Horne starts at fly-half with Nick Frisby his half-back partner.
In midfield, Stafford McDowall and Kyle Steyn combine as they did in Glasgow’s victory over Zebre at the start of the month.
Club centurions Ruaridh Jackson and Niko Matawalu are joined by Rory Hughes in the back-three.
Adam Hastings is named on the bench, the 22-year-old also came on as a replacement at Twickenham against England on Super Saturday.
Team news (Toyota Cheetahs)
Charles Marais will be starting at loosehead prop, while Marnus van der Merwe will be the starting hooker with Joseph Dweba providing cover on the bench.
Sintu Manjezi will be starting at lock where he will partner Walt Steenkamp, with Daniel Maartens and Henco Venter among the back-rowers while Gerhard Oliver comes off the bench. Flanker Junior Pokomela has been sidelined due to a back injury.
Malcolm Jaer returns from injury and will be starting at full-back with Louis Fouché moving to the replacements.
Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “We’re rapt with the results we’ve picked up over the Six Nations.
“We got 19 points out of a possible 20, which is the best record across the PRO14 and are really pleased with the depth we’re starting to build throughout the squad.
“A lot is made of Cheetahs’ ability in attack and we know how lethal they are off turnover pill, so our handling accuracy is going to have to be paramount, but they’ve got lots of other strings to their bow.
“They have a massive, athletic pack so our physicality is going to have to be at its best to deal with that aspect of their game too.”
Cheetahs captain Tian Meyer said: “Glasgow are a good team. It’s definitely going to be a tough task out there but the energy around our squad is good.
“We demand better quality at training, better quality in the matches, we can see that. We haven’t got the results in the last three games on tour but we’ve really been putting in hard work and it is small things that will make the difference.”
Key battle – Rabz Maxwane v Niko Matawalu
It falls on the Warriors utility back Niko Matawalu, traditionally a scrum-half but who has spent much of this season on the wing, to try and slow down the Guinness PRO14’s top try scorer Rabz Maxwane.
The South African speedster leads the competition with 13 scores and despite the Cheetahs’ three-game losing streak he has still touched down in all three matches – showing his potent finishing.
But Matawalu is a perennial threat will ball in hand and has shown it with five tries in the league this season, including a hat-trick against Ospreys.
Key stat: The Warriors’ solitary defeat at Scotstoun in the Guinness PRO14 this season was 16-8 to Edinburgh on 29 December.
Did you know?
Cheetahs’ last five matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst their most recent away win was 24-17 at their rivals, Isuzu Southern Kings, on 18 January.
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Niko Matawalu, Kyle Steyn, Stafford McDowall, Rory Hughes, Pete Horne, Nick Frisby; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins (c), Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Jamie Bhatti, Siua Halanukonuka, Bruce Flockhart, Chris Fusaro, Adam Hastings, Paddy Kelly, Robbie Nairn
Toyota Cheetahs: Malcolm Jaer, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Dries Swanepoel, Rabz Maxwane, Tian Schoeman, Tian Meyer (c); Charles Marais, Marnus van der Merwe, Aranos Coetzee, Sintu Manjezi, Walt Steenkamp,Daniel Maartens, Abongile Nonkontwana, Henco Venter
Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Reinach Venter, Luan de Bruin, Justin Basson, JP du Preez, Gerhard Olivier, Shaun Venter, Louis Fouche
TV: At Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, 7.45pm, Live on Premier Sports
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 112th competition game) Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Dunx McClement (SRU) TMO: Brian MacNiece (IRFU) Citing Commissioner: John Kirk (SRU)
The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets
First-half tries from Callum Gibbins, Kyle Steyn and Rory Hughes inspired Glasgow Warriors to a convincing 35-17 win over Toyota Cheetahs as they extended their lead at the top of Conference A in Guinness Pro14.
A powerful Warriors side resisted early pressure and hit back with scores from Gibbins, Steyn and Hughes – with only William Small-Smith’s brilliant effort in reply.
Cheetahs threatened a comeback with an early try from Joseph Dweba but Stafford McDowall effectively sealed the win for a hungry Glasgow side.
It was then down to Scott Cummings to embellish the score before Small-Smith’s speed allowed him to cross again with a minute to go.
Cheetahs came flying out of the blocks and would have crossed had it not been for some dogged Warriors defence.
They were made to pay for their wastefulness minutes later as Glasgow skipper Gibbins crossed the line after some powerful scrum play.
But the South African side grew into the game after going down, with a wonderful weaving run from Small-Smith finishing off a clever move following a set-piece.
The try sparked an intense period of rugby in which Steyn showed his pace and strength to crash through two Cheetahs defenders and dot down to increase his side’s lead.
Hughes then spotted a gap in the backline following a ruck to squeeze through and cross – despite appearing offside, the try was upheld after review.
The winger was then metres away from doubling his tally as he latched onto a clever drop kick but was thwarted at the last as his side took a comfortable lead into the break.
The away side, once again, came out of the break the stronger again as Dweba’s surging run broke through four Warriors defenders to score after receiving a clever pass.
But the home side secured their own bonus point through a mix of quick handoffs and raw power as centre McDowall forced his way over the line.
With Cheetahs pushing forward, the score came at a crucial time for the hosts as Glasgow showed their trademark counter-attacking ability to take the wind out of the visitor’s sails.
The away side did gather themselves and grew back into the game with a series of substitutions, but they were stopped by a stalwart backline at every occasion and contributed to their own offensive downfall with a series of unforced turnovers.
And when Cummings placed the ball over with four minutes left, Glasgow were able to breathe easy as Small-Smith’s well-taken consolation after accelerating past his defender meant Cheetahs came agonisingly close to a bonus point.
22 Mar 2019