Cardiff Blues v Cheetahs | Guinness Pro14 | Saturday 9th November 2019
Cardiff Blues: WLLLL
Cheetahs started the season brilliantly winning all three of their opening games in Bloemfontein, putting 48 points on Glasgow, 40 on Munster and a huge 63 on Ulster, however tight losses away at Connacht and Scarlets have followed these late two weeks.
Cardiff Blues 25-20 Cheetahs – 10/02/2018
Cheetahs 29-27 Cardiff Blues – 07/04/2018
Cardiff Blues 24-21 Cheetahs – 28/09/2018
Cheetahs 21-10 Cardiff Blues – 27/10/2018
All four games between the two teams so far have come in the calendar year of 2018, with no side enjoying a winning margin of more than 11. All four games have gone the way of the home side so far, with Cheetahs just edging an aggregate score of 86-91.
John Mulvihill has rung the changes after losing four games in a row with Seb Davies joining Josh Turnbull at second row, Nick Williams returning at eight, Jason Tovey starting at fly-half with Jarrod Evans sliding to 12, and Harri Millard getting the nod on the wing.
Lloyd Williams will captain the side as he makes his 200th appearance for Cardiff Blues, while on the other end of the scale there is a potential Guinness Pro14 debut for back-rower Alun Lawrence.
Cheetahs make five changes to their team which lost to Scarlets last week as Lean de Bruin starts at loosehead, Walt Steenkamp in at second row and Gerhard Oliver coming in on the flank.
The experienced Ruan Pienaar captains the side from scrum-half while Anthony Volmink is in on the wing. There is a familiar name as former Scarlets back Clayton Blommetjies starts on the other wing.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan, Harri Millard, Rey Lee-Lo, Jarrod Evans, Aled Summerhill, Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams (c); Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Will Boyde, Nick Williams
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Keiron Assiratti, Macauley Cook, Alun Lawrence, Lewis Jones, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harries
Cheetahs: Rhyno Smith, Clayton Blommetjies, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Anthony Volmink, Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar (c); Jasper Wiese, Junior Pokomela, Gerhard Olivier, Walk Steenkamp, Sintu Manjezi, Aranos Coetzee, Joseph Dweba, Luan de Bruin
Replacements: Wilmar Arnoldi, Boan Venter, Erich de Jager, JP du Preez, Sias Koen, Tian Meyer, George Whitehead, Louis Fouche
Player to watch
Of course the obvious name in the Cheetahs team is Ruan Pienaar, after his many years of top class European rugby and as a Springbok, however the current danger man in that squad is Rhyno Smith.
An electric start to the season has seen the full-back top the Pro14’s list for metres made, defenders beaten and tries, as he has crossed the whitewash six times so far this campaign.
What the coaches said
“Unfortunately we’ve lost Kristian Dacey, Rory Thornton and Olly Robinson to injuries, but we have also taken the opportunity to freshen things up a bit. At the moment we can benefit from having two ball players and two kicking options on the pitch and an axis of Jason Tovey and Jarrod Evans will give us that.
“It is vital that we get back to winning ways on Saturday and that we finish this block of PRO14 matches on a positive note before moving into European competition.
“The Cheetahs have scored more tries than anyone else so far in the competition so we will need to be at our best and I am sure there will be a reaction come Saturday night.”
John Mulvihill – Cardiff Blues Head Coach
“We’re looking forward to Saturday’s match. It is the last one on tour. We came here to win all three, but unfortunately we lost the first two. This is our last chance to win a match on tour.
“Our preparations this week went well. We are lucky not to have any injuries and have a full team to train with, which brings continuity. We’ll be playing on an artificial pitch and luckily we trained on Cardiff City’s soccer field this week with the same surface for the players to get used to the conditions.
“Cardiff didn’t have the best start, but they have strong team, especially with players returning from the World Cup. We expect a big challenge.”
Cheetahs head coach Hawes Fourie
Scottish referee Ben Blain will take charge of just his fourth Guinness Pro14 game on Saturday on his first visit to Cardiff Arms Park.
He has previously refereed Munster v Dragons at Rodney Parade and Thomond Park, as well as Zebre v Connacht out in Italy.