Will The Reigning Champions Spoil The Cheetahs Finals’ Hopes?

(Photo Credit: JJ Vorster/Speedshots.co.za)

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will host the Cell C Sharks in the second semi-final at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein at 17h00.

A victory for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs would guarantee them a home final in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 7 September, as they finished the pool stages as the top team on points’ difference.

In Bloemfontein, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs will go in search of their first final berth since 2016, while defending champions, the Cell C Sharks, will have their sights on their third consecutive appearance in the final when the teams meet in their semi-final.

The last time they crossed paths, the Cell C Sharks won by a narrow seven points in Durban. Interestingly, the KwaZulu-Natalians last suffered a defeat against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in 2013, and while this is expected to serve as inspiration for the visitors, it will also fuel the Free Staters’ motivation to win.

The hosts have been more effective on the attack this season, with 40 tries scored to 26 by the Cell C Sharks, but they have been fairly closely matched on defence, with the home side conceding 24 points fewer in their six matches this season. 

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs made three changes and one positional switch to the side that defeated DHL Western Province last week, with Dries Swanepoel (centre), and Erich de Jager and Ox Nche (both props) earning starts, while William Small-Smith moves from centre to the right-wing.

Cell C Sharks coach Sean Everitt made only one change to his squad, with experienced flyhalf Curwin Bosch returning from injury, which sees him take over from Henry Chamberlain, who drops out of the match-day squad. 

Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein. Kick-off: 17h00 

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Tian Meyer (capt), 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjesi, 3 Erich de Jager, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Darren Adonis.

Cell C Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward (co-captain), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-captain), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Thomas du Toit. Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 JP Pietersen.