Cheetahs keep changes to the minimum as they name Currie Cup final squad
Riding a wave of momentum‚ the Free State Cheetahs named their side to play in their 15th Currie Cup final on Thursday and as expected they kept their changes to the minimum.
Abongile Nonkontwana and Gerhard Olivier switch places‚ with Oliver starting in the No 6 jersey.
Charles Marais returns from injury and has secured a place on the bench.
The Cheetahs will be hoping to take the momentum from their semi-final win over the Sharks into the final.
They are still smarting from the 24-22 home defeat they suffered at the hands of the Golden Lions in league play a month ago and a fast start may set an early course for proceedings.
They may have a squad baked hard in the Pro 14 but they face opposition who are littered with potential game breakers.
There was not much that separated the finalists in the league stages but the Cheetahs were arguably the more consistent and convincing when they vanquished sides.
Captain Tian Meyer was sanguine about his team’s prospects.
“We didn’t come all this way just to compete in the final‚” assured Meyer.
“It is going to be an 80 minute performance against the Lions‚” he added.
Amid brisk ticket sales he urged fans to attend the match.
Not much separate the teams in recent clashes in Bloemfontein.
The Free Staters have won three and lost two of their last five matches against Golden Lions in Bloemfontein‚ which will give the visitors confidence going into the clash.
But the hosts will take comfort in the fact that their attack has been better this season with 256 points and 37 tries scored to the visitors’ 197 points and 27 tries.
However‚ on defence both teams have been closely matched‚ with the Golden Lions conceding only 10 points more.
As far as finals are concerned the Lions won 56-33 in 1994‚ while the Cheetahs turned the tables in 2007 when they won a nail-biter 20-18.
The Free State Cheetahs to play the Golden Lions - Clayton Blommetjies; William Small-Smith‚ Benhard Janse van Rensburg‚ Dries Swanepoel; Tian Meyer (captain); Tian Schoeman‚ Ruan Pienaar; Henco Venter‚ Junior Pokomela; Gerhard Olivier; Walt Steenkamp‚ Sintu Manjezi; Erich de Jager‚ Joseph Dweba‚ Ox Nché.
Substitutes: Jacques du Toit‚ Charles Marais‚ Reinach Venter‚ JP du Preez‚ Jasper Wiese; Abongile Nonkontwana‚ Louis Fouche‚ Darren Adonis.