Toyota Cheetahs Set On Continuing Their Dominance Over Vodacom Bulls

 

The Toyota Cheetahs finished the Premier Division league phase at the top of the standings and will host the Vodacom Bulls in the first playoff at 15h00 in Bloemfontein.

The Toyota Cheetahs will play in their 24th Currie Cup semi-final when they take on the Vodacom Bulls.

This will be the two team’s fourth Currie Cup semi-final encounter. The Free State’s first Currie Cup semi-final was against the Northern Transvaal on 21 August 1954 when Northern Transvaal beat the Free State 9-8 at Springbokpark in Bloemfontein. Fifty-four years later, the sides met in a semi-final on 13 October 2007 when the Cheetah beat the Bulls 11-6 in Bloemfontein, and the following year the Bulls were victorious, winning 31-19 at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria. A 19-year-old Robert Ebersohn was part of the Cheetah team in 2008.

Hawies Fourie’s charges beat the men from Pretoria twice in the regular season, claiming a 32-7 win in the round three fixture in Bloemfontein, and a 31-27 victory at Loftus Versfeld last week.

The Free Staters scored the most points (439) and tries (63) over the course of the 14-game league phase. It will be interesting to see how the Vodacom Bulls’ defence copes with the Toyota Cheetahs' attack in the semi-final. Jake White’s side has conceded the second-most points (415) and tries (53). Only the NovaVit Griffons have conceded more.

That said, the Toyota Stadium has hardly been a fortress this season, with the Free Staters winning three, losing three and drawing one at their home venue. For this reason, the Vodacom Bulls may fancy their chances of an upset in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Coach Hawies Fourie made only one change to the starting line-up. Ruan Pienaar, who will be starting on flyhalf replacing Siya Masuku who is injured. 

Director of Rugby, Jake White has made four changes to his matchday 23 with Johan Grobbelaar, WJ Steenkamp, Bernard van der Linde and Sibongile Novuka all being rotated.

Grobbelaar comes into starting xv, slotting into the front row as one of only two changes to an otherwise unchanged forward pack. The other change to the men in front is Nizaam Carr starting at the open-side flank. Last week’s starter, Jan-Hendrik Wessels shift to the impact squad where Steenkamp, van der Linde and Novuka will all look to get a run from.

At the back, the only changes are that of Keagan Johannes and Chris Smith. Johannes starts at scrum-half with Embrose Papier missing out due to a hamstring niggle, whilst Smith slots into fly-half. The rest of the backline remains unchanged.

Teams:

Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Cohen Jasper, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Friedle Olivier, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jeandre Rudolph, 20 George Cronje, 21 Daniel Maartens, 22 Evardi Boshoff, 23 Robert Ebersohn.

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 David Kriel, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Keagan Johannes, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Bernard van der Linde, 22 Sibongile Novuka, 23 Wandisile Simelane.