Ospreys will look to build on their win over Edinburgh by seeing off their conference rivals the Toyota Cheetahs on Saturday.
George North racked up two tries on his debut for Ospreys last weekend and he and his new region will want to continue that vein of form in order to put the disappointment of last season behind them.
Meanwhile, the South Africans – quarter-finalists last year – are looking to regroup quickly after a heavy defeat to Munster in their opening game.
What’s at stake? The two sides each won their respective home game when they met last season.
The Welshmen have won their last six Guinness PRO14 encounters at Liberty Stadium since Glasgow Warriors beat them there back in November.
The Ospreys won both matches they played against South African opponents in Swansea last season and the Cheetahs record against Welsh regions last season was won four lost three with their only victory in Wales being against Dragons at Rodney Parade in March.
Team news (Ospreys) The Ospreys make two changes to their backline for the visit of the Cheetahs with Tom Williams coming onto the left wing in place of Hanno Dirksen.
Wales international Sam Davies is also restored to the No.10 jersey in place of Luke Price while James Hook comes onto the bench as cover in the backs.
The pack is unchanged from the one that helped down Edinburgh last time out with Justin Tipuric captaining the side.
Team news (Toyota Cheetahs) Captain Oupa Mohoje has been sidelined after suffering an ACL tear in his right knee sustained in last week’s match against Munster.
He is expected to be out of action for 9 months.
Gerhard Olivier has joined the team in Swansea and will be providing cover on the bench for Aidon Davis.
Shaun Venter will be leading the side onto the field for this match.
Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke
“Momentum is important. It builds confidence and a thirst for more success. As always, there are areas to improve. It’s early days and we are a new squad with new players and new coaches but the atmosphere in the camp is excellent.
“Toyota Cheetahs are another quarter finalist team from last season. They will offer a different threat with game breakers throughout the team and we need to be ready for that but, as always, we
Cheetahs coach Franco Smith:
“We have a big challenge ahead of us. The Ospreys team has a number of international players with a great pack of forwards and players like Alyn Wyn Jones, who is an excellent line-out jumper with lots of experience in the Wales and British and Irish Lions jersey, and forwards like Justin Tipuric, Brandley Davies, Dan Lydiate as well as George North and Scott Williams who’s names stand out in the backline.”
Key battle: William Small-Smith v George North
William Small-Smith caught the eye last season for the Toyota Cheetahs with his elusive running with ball in hand.
But his defensive instincts will need to be on points on Saturday evening when he faces up to an in-form George North.
North bagged a double in the season opener and looks refreshed and ready for a big season for club and country.
Key stat Toyota Cheetahs failed to score a point in Munster last weekend for only the second time in their history – previously doing so against Stormers in Cape Town in Super Rugby in 2014.
Did you know? Ospreys began their 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 campaign with a 17-13 home victory over Edinburgh, and only once since 2014 have they begun a season with a pair of victories.
Ospreys: D Evans, G North, S Williams, O Watkin, T Williams, S Davies, A Davies, N Smith, S Otten, T Botha, B Davies, AW Jones, D Lydiate, J Tipuric, J King
Replacements: S Baldwin, R Jones, A Jeffries, A Bear, S Cross, T Habberfield, J Hook, J Thomas
Toyota Cheetahs: M Jaer, R Maxwane, B Janse van Rensburg, N Lee, W Small-Smith, T Schoeman, S Venter, O Nche, J du Toit, L de Bruin, J Basson, JP du Preez, J Pokomela, A Davis, J Wiese
Replacements: J Dweba, C Marais, A Coetzee, W Steenkamp, G Olivier, T Meyer, E Stapelberg/M van der Merwe, R Eksteen
TV: At Liberty Stadium, Swansea, 5.30pm. Live on Premier Sports, EIR Sports and SuperSport
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 36th competition game)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (IRFU), Gareth John (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Dennis Jones (WRU) TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)
Braces from Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn Jones saw Ospreys comprehensively beat Toyota Cheetahs as they made it back-to back wins in the Guinness PRO14 in Swansea.
Following a narrow win over Edinburgh last week, the seven-try Ospreys romped to a bonus point victory as tries from Scott Otten, George North and Alex Jeffries sealed the win.
Tipuric was once again in formidable form as he picked up man-of-the-match honours for the second week running, while Jones – the man he replaced as skipper – was equally impressive.
Despite the dominate scoreline, it was Cheetahs who started the better of the two sides before Ospreys made the most of their first foray into the visitors’ half.
Piling the pressure on Cheetahs with a kick into the corner, the hosts won their own lineout and Tipuric’s clever offload set up Jones to cross the whitewash after seven minutes.
Sam Davies added the extras to extend Ospreys’ advantage, but the Cheetahs responded with their own surging move as No. 8 Jasper Wiese touched down and Paul Schoeman converted.
The Ospreys wasted little time in hitting back, though, after smart passing from Tipuric and Davies provided space for George North, who stormed down the left wing.
Tonight’s man of the match has been awarded to the captain himself Justin Tipuric 💪 pic.twitter.com/zQSRs3RxNz
— Ospreys (@ospreys) September 8, 2018
He was hauled down five metres short of the Cheetah’s line, but hooker Scott Otten was on hand to dive over before Davies restored Ospreys’ seven-point lead.
Having already lost Nicky Smith to a head injury, Ospreys suffered another blow when full-back Dan Evans was forced off the field while tackling Malcom Jaer, with James Hook his replacement.
This failed to disrupt the hosts, though, and Scott Williams’ sweeping long pass allowed North to dive over in the corner for his third try in two games for his new side.
Davies then slotted over a penalty to give the Ospreys a 22-7 half-time lead before Williams became the third injury casualty for the hosts at the start of the second-half.
Ospreys continued to look dangerous in attack despite making a raft of changes, with Jefferies crashing over from short range for a bonus-point try.
Tipuric then profited from excellent line-out work from James King, with the Ospreys pack providing the basis for the captain to drive over for a well-worked score.
Cheetahs showed some resilience as winger Rabz Rabz Maxwane provided the individual moment of the match to score the visitors’ second try after collecting his own chip to power over.
But Ospreys were relentless and Tipuric was soon driven over again before the tireless Wales lock Jones powered over for his second try to provide the fitting finale.