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    Can Cheetahs outsmart Reds?

    2016-04-29 17:34

    Cape Town - Two of Super Rugby's strugglers meet on Saturday looking for some light relief when the Reds host the Cheetahs in Brisbane.

    The Reds, now under the control of co-coaches Nick Stiles and Matt O'Connor, stunned the Highlanders before being outscored 44-81 during their two matches on tour against the Bulls and Stormers in South Africa.

    No doubt about it, the timing of the Reds trip to South Africa was poor having finally broken their losing run with that resounding home win, but the 2011 champions have to hope the positivity from that shock triumph is still alive in Brisbane this Saturday.

    Those supporters flocking back to Suncorp Stadium however should take heart from the Reds' record over this weekend's opponents. The Reds have won five of their last six matches against the Cheetahs, outscoring the South African side by 70 points across that span.

    Naming an unchanged XV despite those losses is a clear sign of faith from the coaching staff for the Reds players to steady the ship (again), and with a top five lineout and a top two scrum in the competition, they really should be winning more games.

    The Reds have a scrum success of 95 percent so far this season, the best of any team, while the Cheetahs’ is the least effective scrum in the competition (73 percent).

    Therefore it doesn't take much homework to realise where the Cheetahs need to front up. Their pack couldn't live with the Rebels last weekend and Lood de Jager and Co have plenty of work to do.

    Both of the Cheetahs' wins this year have come over the Sunwolves - by margins of one point and 75 points - but their record in Australia is a real worry.

    The Cheetahs have won just one of their last six matches in Australia, and they’ve never beaten the Reds there, losing four.

    Breaking that run requires stability up front and an on-song outing off the tee from Fred Zeilinga, handed the start this week ahead of Niel Marais, and if those happen then there is excitement in the shape of Raymond Rhule, Sergeal Petersen and Clayton Blommetjies at the back.

    The last time these teams met: Nick Frisby's late drop goal clinched a one-point win for the Reds over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, winning 18-17. Ryno Benjamin and Boom Prinsloo crossed for the hosts while Adam Korczuk and Samu Kerevi scored tries for the Reds, with Joe Pietersen and James O'Connor in charge of the kicking duties for their respective sides prior to Frisby's match-winning moment.

    Players to watch: A year later than expected the Reds are starting to see the best of Karmichael Hunt. Fullback this year was meant to be Ayumu Goromaru's spot to lose, but Hunt's kicking game from deep combined with his abilities as a distributor at either first or second receiver are the reasons that Samu Kerevi has been so effective with his carrying.

    Looking at the visitors, flank Uzair Cassiem is enjoying a first taste of Super Rugby after making a name for himself domestically in South Africa with the Pumas. Cassiem has impressed with his close-range carrying this year and will hope to punish the Reds around the ruck area.

    Team news: The Reds have announced an unchanged side to play the Cheetahs at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday. That means James Slipper again captains the side, with Hunt at fullback and Liam Gill at openside flank.

    Meanwhile, Cheetahs head coach Franco Smith has brought in Fred Zeilinga to start at fly-half. Zeilinga takes the place of Marais, who drops to the bench. Smith has also made changes to his forward pack where Carl Wegner comes in for Francois Uys at lock and Henco Venter replaces the injured Hilton Lobberts. Paul Schoeman subsequently moves from number eight to the side of the scrum for this weekend's match at Suncorp Stadium.

    There was also a late blow for the Cheetahs when captain Francois Venter was ruled out with a calf injury on Friday. His place at centre is taken by Michael van der Spuy, with De Jager taking over the captaincy duties.

    Form: Bar that shock win over the Highlanders, it's been a tough campaign for the Reds, although things have improved since the departure of Richard Graham after Round 2. There have been two losing bonus points in defeat along with a 25-25 draw with the Blues, meaning perhaps luck just needs to go their way. The Reds have scored just one try in the final 20 minutes of their games this season though, fewer than any other side.

    The Cheetahs are yet to win against a team whose name doesn't start with 'Sun' and ends in 'wolves', but they too have been competitive, with three losing bonus points so far.

    Previous results:

    2015: Reds won 18-17 in Bloemfontein
    2014: Reds won 43-33 in Brisbane
    2013: Cheetahs won 27-13 in Bloemfontein
    2011: Reds won 41-8 in Brisbane
    2010: Reds won 31-10 in Bloemfontein
    2009: Reds won 22-3 om Brisbane
    2008: Cheetahs won 29-14 in Bloemfontein
    2007: Reds won 23-13 in Brisbane

    Teams:

    Reds

    15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Junior Laloifi, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ben Matwijow, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (captain)

    Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia'aua, 23 Ayumu Goromaru

    Cheetahs

    15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lood de Jager (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais

    Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Niel Marais, 23 TBA

    Date: Saturday, April 30
    Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
    Kick-off: 19:45 local (09:45 GMT)
    Referee: Ben O'Keeffe
    Assistant Referees: Will Houston, Nic Berry
    TMO: George Ayoub

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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