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Preview: Scarlets v Cheetahs

Charlie Talbot-Smith 4 May 2018

The second of the Guinness PRO14 Final Series Semi-final Qualifiers takes place at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday evening when defending champions Scarlets welcome Toyota Cheetahs.

Scarlets are looking to become the first Welsh region to retain their title and they made sure of second place in Conference B with a comfortable 33-8 victory over Dragons at the Principality Stadium last week.

For the Cheetahs, they successfully booked their play-off place in what is their first season in the Championship with a 29-20 win over fellow South African side Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

What’s at stake?

Put simply, an away semi-final at Glasgow Warriors awaits whichever team is victorious in Llanelli.

Scarlets are unbeaten at home in the Guinness PRO14 all season, with Leinster’s 10-10 draw the closest anyone has come to beaten the champions on their own turf.

The Cheetahs have also been strong at home in the campaign, but have struggled for consistent results away from Bloemfontein, picking up just four victories on the road.

Team news (Scarlets)

Winger Tom Prydie makes his first appearance in over two months, following his return from an ankle injury, and he is one of three changes made from the win against Dragons.

Prydie replaces Ioan Nicholas on the right wing, while captain Ken Owens is brought back in at hooker after being left on the bench in favour of Ryan Elias last week.

John Barclay comes in at No.8 for Will Boyde, while head coach Wayne Pivac has named fit-again loosehead prop Wyn Jones among the replacements.

Team news (Cheetahs)

Head coach Rory Duncan has made a couple of changes from the team that defeated Southern Kings, the most significant being South Africa international Johan Goosen brought in at fly-half.

Last week’s No.10, Niel Marais, moves to inside centre, meaning Clinton Swart moves to the bench, with the one change in the forwards seeing lock Rynier Bernardo replace Reniel Hugo.

Influential full back Clayton Blommetjies has been named in the line-up subject to a fitness test to an ankle problem, with Swart ready to replace him should he miss out.

Talking points

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac: “They (Cheetahs) play an open expansive sort of game, which we like watching and playing. I’m not surprised that they’ve reached the play-offs, they’ve got some talent.

“Their season has been a very credible one and they’re going to be a tough opponent on the weekend. They’ve given themselves every opportunity to go further and we’re going to have to be at our best.”

Cheetahs head coach Rory Duncan: “It’s obviously a special game for us, I don’t think there’s any moving away from the guys realising that they’re in the play-offs and it’s exciting for us to be there.

“With regards to the Scarlets and the way they’ve performed they’re obviously a quality outfit and they’ve got some great players in their line-up.”

Key battle – Rhys Patchell v Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen has come out of retirement to help the Cheetahs to this stage and the 25-year-old Springbok has experience of reaching the latter parts of big competitions before.

He has plenty of fast runners outside of him, while he’s more than capable of picking holes in the opposition defence himself.

That is something Rhys Patchell has been doing all season, during which his all-round game at fly-half has come on leaps and bounds and he’ll be looking to control this match from the start.

Key stat: Cheetahs won the only previous meeting, when they defeated Scarlets 28-21 at Bloemfontein in December.

Did you know? Scarlets are unbeaten in their last 20 home matches in the Guinness PRO14, their longest-ever run.

Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Prydie, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Steve Cummins, Tadhg Beirne, James Davies, John Barclay

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Dan Jones, Steff Hughes

Toyota Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, William Smart-Smith, Francois Venter, Niel Marais, Sibahle Maxwane, Johan Goosen, Tian Meyer, Ox Nche, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Johan Coetzee, Carl Wegner, Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem

Replacements: Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais, Tom Botha, Reniel Hugo, Henco Venter, Zee Mkhabela, Clinton Swart, Lloyd Greeff

TV: Live on S4C and SuperSport

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Scarlets beat Toyota Cheetahs to reach Guinness PRO14 Semi-finals

Andy Baber 5 May 2018
Hadleigh Parkes shakes hands with Teboho Mohoje

Scarlets remain on course to defend their title after running in six tries against Toyota Cheetahs for a comfortable 43-8 win at Parc y Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14.

Steff Evans scored a brace and Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Prydie, James Davies and Jonathan Evans also crossed as the Welsh region booked their place in the semi-finals.

Scarlets bolted out the gate and opened the scoring after six minutes when Rhys Patchell’s pass put Evans in to score in the corner, with Halfpenny adding the extras.

Halfpenny extended the hosts lead with a penalty, before the Scarlets showed off their ruthless counter attack as Patchell and Gareth Davies combined to set up Halfpenny.

Cheetahs responded with a penalty from the boot of Johan Goosen, but Scarlets continued to threaten and underlined their dominance with another score before the break.

Evans chipped in behind the defence and gathered as he dotted down for a wonderful solo effort to give the hosts a 24-3 lead going into the second period.

Scarlets extended their advantage within five minutes of the restart as Scott Williams flicked the ball cleverly out the back of his hand to Prydie for another converted try.

The home forwards then outmuscled their counterparts as a driving maul from a lineout saw Davies power over the line for a fifth try, again converted by Patchell.

With victory in the bag, Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac rested several of his players – but the replacements continued to dominate the South African side.

Jonathan Evans, on at scrum-half for Gareth Davies, darted through after Cheetahs spilled possession for the sixth try just after the hour mark.

Full-back Clayton Bommetjies then grabbed a late consolation with four minutes left, while Patchell was sin-binned for a late tackle on Sibahle Maxwane.

However, nothing could stop Scarlets from advancing to the semi-finals, where they will face a trip to Scotstoun for a showdown with Glasgow Warriors.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138