Lions aim to restore pride
Johannesburg - Following their disappointing loss to the Brumbies in Johannesburg last week, the Lions will be hoping to reignite their quest for a Super Rugby playoff slot.
With only three regular season matches left for Johan Ackermann's charges, a maximum haul of 15 log points will be foremost in their minds if they are to have any chance of reaching the post-season for the first time in the conference era.
Ackermann hasn't held back in rotating his squad, making seven changes to his run-on team for the clash in Bloemfontein.
The Cheetahs, by contrast, have only made three changes with Raymond Rhule and Cornal Hendricks starting at wing, while Carel Greeff earns a start at the expense of Tienie Burger, who is unable to play due to concussion.
The team from Johannesburg will be encouraged by the notion that the Cheetahs have been their favourite locally based team in the competition, winning seven of their 12 encounters since the two franchises parted ways as the Cats.
"We know we will have to meet fire with fire against the Lions on Saturday," said Cheetahs captain Francois Uys.
"If you allow them to do what they want and not disrupt them at all, it will be easy for them, as they are a good unit and play well together."
"So we will have to play well to beat them, like we did in Johannesburg earlier in the season when one or two errors in the end probably cost us the game.
"If we stick together as a team, we know we’re in with a chance."
The Cheetahs have had the tendency to fade in the second half of matches this season (leading four of the last five matches at half-time, only winning once), coupled with the fact that the Lions' slow starts to matches has had them play catch-up for the better part of the season, should make it a particularly interesting encounter to witness.
However, Ackermann is under no illusions that they face a team which is unpredictable in nature and have the ability to surprise.
"I’ve been saying since day one of this competition that any side can beat any other side and the Cheetahs proved it a few weeks ago against the Stormers."
Kick-off for Saturday's encounter at the Free State Stadium is scheduled for 17:05.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Carel Greeff, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Minnie
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Courtnall Skosan , 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Martin Muller, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Julian Redelinghuys, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Robert Kruger, 21. Ross Cronje, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Harold Vorster