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PRO14 Preview – Cheetahs to start winning and Kings to keep momentum

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With the great win at home last week the Isuzu Kings must now keep the momentum as they travel back to Europe this weekend to face Scarlets.

But the weekend kicks off with the Cheetahs also playing away from home.

Cardiff Blues v Cheetahs (Friday Live on SS1 at 20:35)

Cardiff Blues boss John Mulvihill has made three changes for their PRO14 showdown with the Cheetahs at Cardiff Arms Park.

Following an impressive bonus-point triumph over Munster, Mulvihill’s men will be determined to secure back-to-back wins as they put their campaign back on track.

All of the changes come up front with Scott Andrews starting at tighthead prop, Rory Thornton returning at second-row and Olly Robinson coming into the back-row.

Josh Turnbull reverts to the back-row with Mulvihill selecting a fast and mobile XV to take on the South African outfit.

Steven Shingler returns to the replacements and is set for his first PRO14 appearance of the season, while Sion Bennett returns to the first-team squad for the first time since last November.

“It is vitally important that we back up what was a really good performance and result against Munster with another win against the Cheetahs on Friday night,” said Mulvihill.

“We have selected a side to suit our game-plan but also to ensure players are managed sufficiently, to get through the season, and that others are given opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Cheetahs head coach Franco Smith has made just one alteration to his run-on side which drew with Ulster in Bloemfontein last weekend.

Ryno Eksteen comes into the starting line-up at full-back where he replaces the injured Malcom Jaer. This means Daniel Maartens is the new face on the replacements bench as backline cover.

Smith is happy that he is able to keep changes to his matchday squad to a minimum.

“It’s good to have continuity, which is an important factor for team to grow,” he said.

“With continuity we can learn from mistakes and grow for form a good base. This tour is important to give the next step towards winning and doing better away from home. Cardiff offers a big challenge. They are well prepared and we expect a fast game on the artificial ground.”

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Olly Robinson, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 George Earle, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 
16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Garyn Smith

Cheetahs: 15 Ryno Eksteen, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Sibhale Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Jean-Pierre Du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Johannes Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche 
Replacements: 
16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Günther Janse van Vuuren, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Stephan Malan, 21 Daniel Maartens, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Louis Fouche

Scarlets v Isuzu Southern Kings (Saturday live on SS1 at 19:30)

With the win last weekend the Kings showed that they can win matches in the PRO14 and need that consistency now as well. Once off wins is just not good enough in a tough competition like the PRO14.

They had a disappointing start to the season but got their first win with a bonus point but the Scarlets at home will be no easy opponent.

Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies returns to action this weekend after suffering a hamstring strain and will lead his side against the Kings.

Saturday’s clash will be Davies’ first outing in this season’s PRO14 having pulled out of the pre-match warm-up against Leinster in Round 2.

The British & Irish Lions centre will lead the side with club captain Ken Owens amongst a group of internationals rested this weekend.

A new-look all-international front-row will get a first start this season in Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias and Werner Kruger as head coach Wayne Pivac rotates the squad.

Jake Ball and David Bulbring combine in the second-row with Dan Davis coming in on the openside flank alongside Ed Kennedy and Blade Thomson in the back-row.

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne gets his second start of the season as he comes in to partner Rhys Patchell in the half-backs.

22-year-old Ioan Nicholas and Australian centre Paul Asquith come in for their first competitive starts of the season as they line up in the backline alongside the experienced Johnny McNicholl, Clayton Blommetjies and Davies.

Meanwhile, Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids has named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday.

Following an impressive 38-28 win over Glasgow Warriors at the Nelson Mandela University last week, Davids has opted to stick to the same starting line-up this week, making only three changes on the bench.

While the starting XV is unchanged, the Southern Kings have made three changes on the bench which will see the experienced Rossouw de Klerk as front-row back-up, Schalk Oelofse covering the second-row and a potential debut in the backline for new recruit Tristan Blewett.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Steff Evans

Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Henry Brown, 5 JC Astle, 4 Bobby de Wee, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Tristan Blewett

Other fixtures this weekend in the PRO14

Friday:

Edinburgh v Benetton Rugby

Saturday:

Zebre v Ospreys

Connacht v Leinster

Munster v Ulster

Glasgow Warriors v Dragons

Here is the current log standings:

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