The PRO14 is heating up and atleast one of our South African teams, the Cheetahs, are starting to find their strive in the competition with three wins now at home. It has been much easier for the Cheetahs as they have been playing at home for three weeks and will this week again take on Glasgow in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Kings on the other hand have struggled so far but that was always expected as coach Davids and his team had to start all over after the Super Rugby this year losing so many players that played for them in Super Rugby.
Here is a look a the current log positions
The weekend starts off with the live match on Super Sport between the Cheetahs and Warriors.
There has been some injury enforced changes this week for the Cheetahs with Raymond Rhule ruled out and being replaced by sevens star Rosko Specman. The Cheetahs will want to keep the momentum at home as it is so important for any team to take the points at home.
Warriors coach Rennie have made a few changes from last weeks winning side with Gray and Fraser Brown returning to the starting XV having recovered from a wrist and an ankle injury respectively. Fraser Brown made his comeback from the bench last weekend.
Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson both return to join Brown in the front row while Tim Swinson partners Gray in the second-row.
Captain Ryan Wilson once again starts on the blind-side and Adam Ashe and Callum Gibbins both come back into the team at number eight and openside respectively.
Ali Price and Finn Russell are the half backs. Outside of them, Sam Johnson wears 12 having secured a bonus point for the Warriors last weekend with a try deep in injury time.
Nick Grigg starts at outside centre. In the back-three Leonardo Sarto joins Tommy Seymour and Ruaridh Jackson.
The warriors have shown great form this season and that the reason for being on top of Group A log.
This will be a great win for the Cheetahs at home if they can upset the log leaders at this stage of the competition.
Cheetahs: 15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Oupa Mohoje, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Nico Lee, 23 Luther Obi
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Ryan Wilson (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Geroge Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Brian Alainu’uese, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Niko Matawalu
The Edinburgh team selection includes five changes to the starting XV which narrowly lost to Leinster at the RDS Arena last weekend. The only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three sees Blair Kinghorn return to his familiar position of full-back after featuring off the bench in last weekend’s game in Dublin.
In the midfield, James Johnstone continues at outside centre following his impressive outing last weekend. The Scotland Sevens star is partnered by the experienced Phil Burleigh. Jason Tovey continues at stand-off after scoring all 13 of Edinburgh’s points in last weekend’s defeat. At scrum-half, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne drops to the bench and is replaced by Nathan Fowles.
In the front-row, experienced tighthead WP Nel packs down alongside Stuart McInally and Darryl Marfo. Ben Toolis returns to first team action after being rested last weekend and will once again partner Grant Gilchrist in the boiler room. In the back-row, club captain Magnus Bradbury comes back in at blindside flanker after missing the trip to Dublin. The 22-year-old is joined by the abrasive duo of Jamie Ritchie and Cornell du Preez.
On his team selection, Richard Cockerill said: “We’ve chosen a side which we feel can compete against Zebre in every facet of the game. There are a number of guys who impressed last weekend against Leinster and we hope they can continue to help the side makes positive strides.”
Meanwhile, there is only one change in the starting line-up for Zebre for the Myreside encounter. Giovanbattista Venditti is back as a starter at number 11 for his second appearance of the season.
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury (c), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Darryl Marfo
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Robbie Fruean%u200B
Zebre: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello (c), 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Giovanni Licata, 5 George Biagi, 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Leonard Krumow, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney
Cardiff Blues have made seven changes to the side that lost to Munster last week, as they prepare to welcome Dragons to Cardiff Arms Park.
Returning scrum-half, Lloyd Williams, has been named captain for the clash, and he links-up with Jarrod Evans at half-back, who keeps his place following his 11-point haul last week.
Rey Lee-Lo, who was rested for the trip to Thomond Park, replaces the injured Jack Roberts at outside centre while Alex Cuthbert returns to the wing.
Kristian Dacey is the only change in the front row, but there is a complete overhaul at lock, with Seb Davies and Damian Welch returning to replace George Earle and James Down.
There’s just a single change in the back row, as Josh Navidi comes in at blindside in place of Josh Turnbull, with Olly Robinson and Nick Williams retained at the openside and number eight respectively.
The Blues will be looking to extend their four-game winning streak over the Dragons, and will aim to build momentum ahead of next week’s opening European Challenge Cup clash against Lyon.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have two wins under their belts at Rodney Parade and will be looking to take those winning ways on the road to defeat their closest rivals.
Despite 29 injuries to the Dragons senior and academy squads, boss Bernard Jackman has only made one personnel change and one positional change to last weekend’s winning team. Welsh International Hallam Amos, who crossed for two tries last weekend, moves into the full-back position from the wing. Ashton Hewitt remains in position and Jared Rosser, who makes his first start for the region, covers the opposite wing.
The centre partnership sees youngsters Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon get the nod, with the half-backs also remaining unchanged with Gavin Henson and scrum-half Sarel Pretorius retaining their positions.
Last weekend’s man of the match Elliot Dee remains in the starting XV; he is joined in the front row by props Brok Harris and Leon Brown. Matthew Screech and skipper Cory Hill make up the second row whilst James Thomas, Ollie Griffiths and James Benjamin retain their places in the back row.
The replacements bench sees the inclusion of Liam Belcher, who is set to make his Dragons debut and his PRO14 debut, as well as the return of Owain Leonard who has been out injured. Luke Garrett, Lloyd Fairborther, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwirght, Angus O’Brien and Will Talbot-Davies make up the rest of the replacements bench.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhun Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tom James, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams (c), 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 James Down, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan
Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 James Benjamin, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 James Thomas, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Owain Leonard, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Will Talbot-Davies
Chris Henry returns to captain Ulster from the back row, where he will be joined by two robust ball carriers in Iain Henderson and Jean Deysel.
Kyle McCall, Rob Herring and Wiehahn Herbst come in to occupy the front row positions, with Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell named in the second row.
John Cooney and Christian Lealiifano are retained as the half backs and will steer an all-international backline.
Stuart McCloskey is back in midfield alongside Luke Marshall, with Jacob Stockdale and Tommy Bowe selected on the wings and Charles Piutau at fullback.
John Andrew, Andy Warwick and Rodney Ah You will provide front row cover, while Robbie Diack and Sean Reidy will provide Les Kiss with further forward options from the bench.
Paul Marshall, Pete Nelson and Louis Ludik are the backline replacements.
Meanwhile, Kieran Marmion is set to make his 100th Championship appearance for Connacht.
Head coach Kieran Keane includes captain John Muldoon and Ireland scrum-half Marmion in the starting XV along with Matt Healy as the winger has recovered from a groin injury.
Tiernan O’Halloran moves to full-back having scored two tries against Scarlets last time out with Cian Kelleher, also a try-scorer last week, on the right wing.
Tom Farrell and Bundee Aki form the centre partnership. Aki has played every single minute for Connacht so far this season and Farrell’s four offloads last week were more than any other PRO14 player in round five.
Marmion, who has made more passes than any other player so far this season (405), teams up with Jack Carty in the half-backs with the fly-half the PRO14’s fifth top scorer on 39 points.
Hooker Tom McCartney is flanked by Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham in the front row as the second row partnership of Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux remains intact.
Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler and Muldoon form the Connacht back-row.
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 John Cooney, 8 Jean Deysel, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Pete Nelson, 23 Louis Ludik
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Tom Farell, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 James Cannon, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Eoin Griffin