The Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs will have their sights set on building momentum when they travel to Wales for the fifth round of the Guinness PRO14 this weekend, after an impressive step-up last week.
The Cardiff Blues host the Toyota Cheetahs in the Welsh capital on Friday, and on Saturday, 2017 runners up, the Scarlets, take on the Isuzu Southern Kings in Llanelli.
The Free Staters – whose 39-39 draw against Ulster in round four marked the highest level score in the competition’s history – will target their first win of season against the Cardiff Blues. Both sides succumbed to defeats in their first three matches, but will be inspired by vastly improved showings last week.
The hosts come off a comprehensive 37-13 victory against Ulster at home, which marked their first win of the season, while the Toyota Cheetahs were in the lead until the final minute against Ulster before a late try saw the match end in a draw.
The last two encounters between the sides were thrilling, with the Cardiff Blues winning 25-20 at home and the Toyota Cheetahs winning 29-27 in the return match, and with both sides determined to gain momentum in the competition, this clash could prove to be another cracker.
Good discipline will be vital for the visitors, especially with the home side’s Gareth Anscombe being the third-highest points’ scorer in the competition, mainly due to his accurate goal-kicking, while they will also look to step up their defence after conceding 25 tries in their first four matches.
In Llanelli on Saturday, the Scarlets could face a tough challenge against the Isuzu Southern Kings, who will have their sights set on back-to-back victories, and earning their first victory on the road in the competition. The last time the Scarlets suffered a defeat at home was in 2016, which they will want to maintain.
While the Isuzu Southern Kings will be keen to build on their victory last week, the Scarlets will be determined to bounce back from their second defeat in four outings. The Scarlets registered a convincing 57-10 win against the men from Port Elizabeth last season, but they had to work hard for a 34-30 victory in Port Elizabeth, which will motivate the visitors.
The sides have been closely matched on attack and defence this season, with 11 tries a piece, while the Isuzu Southern Kings have conceded four more tries than their Welsh counterparts – who have a few South Africans in their squad including Uzair Cassiem, Clayton Blommetjies and Werner Kruger – meaning it could be a hard-fought encounter.
Guinness PRO14 Round 5 fixtures:
Cardiff Blues v Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Friday, 28 September
SA time: 20h35
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (IRFU), Gwyn Morris (WRU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)
Toyota Cheetahs touring squad:
Forwards: Ox Nche, Joseph Dweba, Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais, Aranos Coetzee, Günther Janse van Vuuren, Reinach Venter, Walt Steenkamp, JP du Preez, Justin Basson, Gerhard Olivier, Daniel Maartens, Junior Pokomela, Stephan Malan, Niell Jordaan, Abongile Nonkonwana.
Backs: Tian Meyer, Shaun Venter, Tian Schoeman, Louis Fouche, Rabz Maxwane, Nico Lee, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, William Small-Smith, Malcolm Jaer, Ryno Eksteen, Rudy Paige.
Scarlets v Isuzu Southern Kings
Date: Saturday, 29 September
SA time: 19h30
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (IRFU), Simon Rees (WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
Isuzu Southern Kings touring squad:
Forwards: Schalk Ferreira, Justin Forwood, Michael Willemse, Alandre van Rooyen, Tango Balekile, Luvuyo Pupuma, Lupumlo Mguca, Rossouw de Klerk, Schalk Oelofse, Bobby de Wee, JC Astle, Marthinus Burger, CJ Velleman, Henry Brown, Andisa Ntsila, Ruaan Lerm.
Backs: Rudi van Rooyen, Godlen Masimla, Martin du Toit, Ntabeni Dukisa, Masixole Banda, Berton Klaasen, Harlon Klaasen, Yaw Penxe, Bjorn Basson, Tristan Blewett, Michael Botha.
Other Round 5 matches (SA kick-off times):
Friday, 28 September:
20h35: Edinburgh v Benetton – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Saturday, 29 September:
16h00: Zebre v Ospreys – Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
18h15: Connacht v Leinster – The Sportsground, Galway
20h35: Glasgow Warriors v Dragons – Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
20h35: Munster v Ulster – Thomond Park, Limerick