Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs will host Benetton from Treviso in Italy for the first time on Saturday with scrumhalf Rudy Paige set to make his PRO14 debut.
The Cheetahs will be determined to make their presence felt as the tournament resumes after a two week break and the Free Staters will look to build on their encouraging win record against Italian opposition, showing two victories in three matches.
The Cheetahs suffered a heart-breaking 30-26 defeat against Munster in their last outing following victory against the Cardiff Blues the previous week.
The teams met for the first time in January in Treviso, and Benetton ground out a 27-21 victory. This narrow defeat, combined with the fact that Benetton come of back-to-back losses will undoubtedly give the hosts confidence as they look to power their way up the standings after a slow start to the season.
The home team’s attack has been marginally better than that of the Italians so far this season, but the visitors’ defence has been superior with 13 fewer tries conceded in their eight matches.
“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.” Said Franco Smith, Head Coach of the Cheetahs.
“Marnus van der Merwe and Rudi Paige bring new energy to the team.”
Kick-off is at 14:30.
15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (captain), 8 Daniel Maartens, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Herhard Olivier, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sinthu Manjezi, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 William Small-Smith