Cheetahs mean business against Lions

    2017-02-24 16:00

    Cape Town - There should be plenty of thrilling action when the Cheetahs and Lions face off in their South African derby in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

    As last year's runners-up and South Africa's top team, there will be plenty of pressure on the Lions this year and although the Cheetahs were also rans in 2016's Super Rugby competition, they will be brimming with confidence after winning the Currie Cup.

    Under the guidance of head coach Franco Smith, the Cheetahs swept all before them in South Africa's domestic competition and they will be determined to make the step up to Super Rugby level.

    That is of course easier said than done but Smith is quietly confident that his charges will do well.

    “I am satisfied with where we are after the pre-season,” he said.

    “Everyone trained really hard and we are as well prepared as we can be. The majority of the players have played Super Rugby and know what the intensity will be like.”

    The Lions were like a breathe of fresh air on the South African landscape in 2016 and although there's pressure on them to win Super Rugby this year, head coach Johan Ackermann is focusing on their opener against the Cheetahs.

    “You have to stay in the moment and not many teams are able to go through Super Rugby‚ especially with this format‚" Ackermann said.

    "There have been examples of teams who started badly yet went on to win the tournament.

    "The Hurricanes were the example last year that shows you can turn it around if you win plenty of matches on the trot.

    "Some teams know how to get momentum and keep it. We were fortunate that we had a good finish.

    “We're not going to target games. We'll just look at matches on a weekly basis and we'll do what has been serving us well in the past three years.”

    The last time the teams met: The Lions eased to an easy 39-22 victory during a Round 4 clash in Johannesburg last year. The hosts dominated from the outset and raced into a 24-3 lead at half-time. Although the Cheetahs gave a better account of themselves in the second half, it wasn't enough and the Lions eventually outscored them by five tries to three. Elton Jantjies scored one of those tries and finished with a 17-point haul as he also added two penalties and three conversions. 

    Players to watch: With Lionel Mapoe switching to the wing, Howard Mnisi gets a chance to stake his claim for a permanent role in the Lions midfield alongside Rohan Janse van Rensburg. Mnisi is a talented player who has impressed in the past with some deft touches on attack. He has battled defensively, however, and will have to show considerable improvement in this department if he wants to cement his place in the run-on side.

    Just like last season, the Cheetahs will kick off their campaign with Fred Zeilinga wearing the No 10 jersey. He will be hoping to make a positive impact as he did not do that in 2016 and eventually lost his starting spot to Niel Marais, who is on the bench for this encounter. Zeilinga will be expected to unleash his dangerous outside backs and also to keep the scoreboard ticking with accurate goal-kicking.

    Team news: Cheetahs coach Smith has opted for Raymond Rhule, Sergeal Petersen and Clayton Blommetjies as his back three, while up front Torsten van Jaarsveld will lead the XV, with Uzair Cassiem, Oupa Mohojo and Paul Schoeman the starting back row and Justin Basson and Reniel Hugo pack down in the second row. Elsewhere, Clinton Swart has big boots to fill as he replaces injured captain Francois Venter at outside centre and he is joined in midfield by Nico Lee, with Fred Zeilinga at flyhalf.

    The Lions have eight Springboks in their run-on side. Regular centre Lionel Mapoe shifts to the wing - where he replaces the injured Ruan Combrinck - with Howard Mnisi starting at inside centre and he lines up in midfield alongside Ruan Janse van Rensburg. Coach Johan Ackermann's son, Ruan, starts at No 7 in the place of the retired Warwick Tecklenburg in the loose trio, joined by Springboks Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel. In the front-row, with Julian Redelinghuys still injured, Ruan Dreyer will take his place in the No 3 jersey while he binds up with Malcolm Marx and Jacques van Rooyen. On the bench, replacement prop Johannes Jonker will make his debut if he takes the field and Blitzbokke star Kwagga Smith could add some pace to the Lions attack off the bench.

    Form: The Lions kicked off their pre-season programme in style when they claimed a 49-19 win against a makeshift SupaBarbarians team at Ellis Park at the start of the month. They then headed to Newlands where they lost 57-40 to the Stormers. The Cheetahs lost 43-7 to the Stormers in their first warm-up game of the season in Harare before suffering a 35-7 defeat to the Sharks in their next friendly in Umlazi.

    Recent results:

    2016: Lions won 39-22 in Johannesburg
    2015: Lions won 40-17 in Bloemfontein    
    2015: Lions won 34-29 in Johannesburg    
    2014: Lions won 60-25 in Johannesburg    
    2014: Lions won 21-20 in Bloemfontein    
    2012: Cheetahs won 26-5 in Welkom    
    2012: Lions won 27-25 in Johannesburg    
    2011: Lions won 25-20 in Bloemfontein



    15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Charles Marais

    Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Ox Nche, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ryno Benjamin


    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

    Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Jaco van der Walt

    Date: Saturday, February 25
    Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
    Kick-off: 15:05
    Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
    Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
    TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk


    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, Forsyth Barr Stadium 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, AMI Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15


    05 August 2017
    29 July 2017
    22 July 2017
    21 July 2017
    15 July 2017
    14 July 2017
    08 July 2017
    07 July 2017
    01 July 2017
    30 June 2017
    09 June 2017
    03 June 2017
    02 June 2017
    28 May 2017
    27 May 2017
    26 May 2017
    21 May 2017
    20 May 2017
    19 May 2017
    13 May 2017
    12 May 2017
    06 May 2017
    05 May 2017
    30 April 2017
    29 April 2017
    28 April 2017
    22 April 2017
    21 April 2017
    15 April 2017
    14 April 2017
    09 April 2017
    08 April 2017
    07 April 2017
    02 April 2017
    01 April 2017
    31 March 2017
    25 March 2017
    24 March 2017
    18 March 2017
    17 March 2017
    11 March 2017
    10 March 2017
    04 March 2017
    03 March 2017
    02 March 2017
    25 February 2017
    24 February 2017
    23 February 2017
    06 August 2016
    30 July 2016
    23 July 2016
    22 July 2016
    16 July 2016
    15 July 2016
    09 July 2016
    08 July 2016
    02 July 2016
    01 July 2016
    29 May 2016
    28 May 2016
    27 May 2016
    21 May 2016
    20 May 2016
    14 May 2016
    13 May 2016
    07 May 2016
    06 May 2016
    30 April 2016
    29 April 2016
    24 April 2016
    23 April 2016
    22 April 2016
    16 April 2016
    15 April 2016
    09 April 2016
    08 April 2016
    03 April 2016
    02 April 2016
    01 April 2016
    27 March 2016
    26 March 2016
    25 March 2016
    19 March 2016
    18 March 2016
    12 March 2016
    11 March 2016
    05 March 2016
    04 March 2016
    27 February 2016
    26 February 2016


    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    The 2017 Super Rugby tournament has reached its quarter-final stage. When all is said and done, who emerges victorious?

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.