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Preview: Blues v Cheetahs

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Thursday, March 20, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 8, Blues 6, Cheetahs 2

LAST TIME: Blues 13 lost to Cheetahs 34, July 6, 2013, at Bloemfontein

WALKING WOUNDED:
Rayno Benjamin has been moved to second five-eighths from the wing after Francois Venter flew home after suffering a shoulder injury. Raymond Rhule wasn't considered due to an ankle injury and his place on the wing is taken by regular fullback Hennie Daniller. Jean Cook will play on the flank ahead of Lappies Labuschagne.

FORM:
It could be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for the Cheetahs at Eden Park on Saturday. With only one win under their belt, their South African duties behind them, and a frustrating try call against them in Johannesburg the Blues have every reason to expect to make hay in this encounter. However, they do have work to do, especially in negotiating their start and they will need discipline and tight defence because while the Cheetahs were hammered by the Hurricanes last week, they have some deadly attacking options well capable of punishing the Blues. They too have everthing to play for having had only one win so far.

WE THINK:
The Ma'a Nonu-Jerome Kaino factor will be a boost for the Blues, although both will be coming off the bench, but they are handy back-up men if the regulars don't start the team on the road to victory. The Cheetahs may have an air of desperation about them and they may chance their arms even more than usually. But the need for an uplifting performance at home to get points on the board will be the over-arching emotion that should see the Blues get five points from this encounter.

TEAMS:


Blues:
1.Tony Woodock, 2.James Parsons, 3.Charlie Faumuina, 4.Liaki Moli, 5.Tom Donnelly, 6.Steven Luatua, 7.Luke Braid, 8.Peter Saili, 9.Piri Weepu, 10.Simon Hickey, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Jackson Willison, 13.George Moala, 14.Frank Halai, 15.Charles Piutau.

Reserves: 16.Tom McCartney, 17.Angus Ta'avao, 18.Ofa Tu'ingafasi, 19.Jerome Kaino, 20.Hayden Triggs, 21.Bryn Hall, 22.Ma'a Nonu, 23.Benji Marshall.

Cheetahs: 1.Calib Oosthuizen, 2.Adriaan Strauss (captain), 3.Maks van Dyk, 4.Lodewyk de Jager, 5.Francois Uys, 6.Boom Prinsloo, 7.Jean Cook, 8.Philip van der Walt, 9.Sarel Pretorious, 10.Johan Goosen, 11.Hennie Daniller, 12.Rayno Benjamin, 13.Johann Sadie, 14.Cornal Hendricks, 15.Willie le Roux.

Reserves: 16.Ryno Barnes, 17.Trevor Nyakane, 18.Rossouw de Klerk, 19.Andries Ferreira, 20.Lappies Labuschagne, 21.Shaun Venter, 22.Elgar Watts, 23.Howard Mnisi.

REFEREE:
Francisco Pastrana