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Week 10 Preview: Cheetahs v Chiefs

Thursday, April 16, 2009    Sportal.co.nz    

VENUE & TIME: Absa Park, Kimberley, Sunday April 19, 01.00 NZT (Saturday April 18, 15.00 local).

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 4 – Free State/Cheetahs 1, Chiefs 2, drawn 1.

LAST TIME: March 8, 2008 (Hamilton) – Chiefs 22-20 Cheetahs.

WALKING WOUNDED: After last weekend's meritorious victory over the competition-leading Sharks, it comes as no surprise to see Naka Drotske has named the same team for this clash. Lelia Masaga and Sitiveni Sivivatu are confirmed non-starters for the Chiefs and Richard Kahui was also under a cloud; while there is plenty of strike-power in the team missing all three could have been stretching it. Sosene Anesi failed a late fitness test on his shoulder, allowing Tim Mikkelson to make his first appearance.

FORM: The Cheetahs go into this match on the back of their best performance since being reintroduced to the competition – a quality 31-6 mashing of the competition leading Sharks. This showed what the Cheetahs are capable of, although question marks must remain over the Sharks mental application for that match in light of their upcoming schedule. The Chiefs have been tearing it up over the last month, taking 24 of a possible 25 points after dropping their first three matches. Some of the back play has been outstanding even if the defence has leaked a bit, but that can happen when you're leading by the best part of 50 points.

WHO'S HOT: Jongi Nokwe finally showed the sort of form we all know he's capable of last week, scorching away for a couple of well-taken tries. No doubt buoyed by the return of outstanding skipper Juan Smith, the pack played extremely well and two regular leaders, flanker Heinrich Brussow and lock David de Villiers, played to their usual very good form. The Chiefs had the week off but will be looking for a continuation of the sort of form they displayed at home. Led by a solid tight five and good loose forward play – Tanerau Latimer has really impressed – the backs, led by All Blacks Stephen Donald, Brendon Leonard and Mils Muliaina – have been on fire.

WE THINK: The Cheetahs will certainly try to play attacking rugby – it worked for them last week and that's the way they always play – so this match could open right up. If it does the score could be high for both teams, but we think the Chiefs are just that bit better and should take it by 10 points or so.

TEAMS:

Cheetahs: 1 – Wian du Preez, 2 – Adriaan Strauss, 3 – Kobus Calldo, 4 – Wayne van Heerden, 5 – David de Villiers, 6 – Heinrich Brussow, 7 – Juan Smith (captain), 8 – Hendro Scholtz, 9 – Tewis de Bruyn, 10 – Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 11 – Jongi Nokwe, 12 – Meyer Bosman, 13 – Corne Uys, 14 – Bjorn Basson, 15 – Hennie Daniller.

Reserves: 16 – Richardt Strauss, 17 – Bees Roux, 18 – Nico Breedt, 19 – Kabamba Floors, 20 – Sarel Pretorius, 21 – Piet van Zyl, 22 – Fabien Juries.

Chiefs: 1 – Ben May, 2 – Aled de Malmanche, 3 – James McGougan, 4 – Craig Clarke, 5 – Kevin O'Neill, 6 – Liam Messam, 7 – Tanerau Latimer, 8 – Sione Lauaki, 9 – Brendon Leonard, 10 – Stephen Donald, 11 – Dwayne Sweeney, 12 – Callum Bruce, 13 – Richard Kahui, 14 – Tim Mikkelson, 15 – Mils Muliaina (captain).

Reserves: 16 – Hikawera Elliot, 17 – Faka'anaua Taumalolo, 18 – Toby Lynn, 19 – Serge Lilo, 20 – Toby Morland, 21 – Mike Delany, 22 – Jackson Willison.

REFEREE: Nathan Pearce