Blommetjies and Rhule return to face the Kings

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MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs have named an unchanged front pack for their Currie Cup clash against the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The forwards played a vital role in the side securing a 30-30 draw against the defending champions, the Sharks in Bloemfontein last week.

Following the match scrumhalf, Sarel Pretorius said it was great to get decent front-foot ball thanks to the efforts by the pack.

“We struggled a bit against the Pumas bit, our backline couldn’t get front-foot ball.

“Especially at the first ruck we lost the ball, so it’s difficult to play from there,” said Pretorius.

“The forwards played really well against the Sharks and were very good in the scrums and the lineouts, and it helps the backs get good front-foot ball.

“It was a huge step-up by them,” the exciting scrumhalf who scored two tries said.

The side is further boosted with the return of both Clayton Blommetjies at fullback and winger Raymond Rhule who missed out last week due to niggles.

Rhule starts in his usual spot on the left wing, while JP du Plessis switches over to the right in the place of the injured Rayno Benjamin, who started at fullback last week.

Willie du Plessis retains is spot at flyhalf, after being hugely instrumental in the draw against the Sharks, thanks to outstanding marshalling work in the back.

Pretorius lauded his halfback partner, who is looking to stake a claim as the teams’ regular pivot.

“I think Willie took great control, he kicked when he had to kick and attacked we he had to attack,” said Pretorius.

“He’s kicking at posts was good as well, he took the last penalty on goal which helped us get the draw,” he concluded.

Furthermore, Brendon Groenewald who recently joined the side from the Sharks as cover as lock, is set to make his debut for the team off the bench against the side from the Eastern Cape.

Groenewald, who played Vodacom Cup rugby for the Free State XV before moving to Durban, replaces Werner Lourens on the bench as cover for the second-row.

Saturday’s untelevised match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth kicks off at 15:00.

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 JP du Plessis, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lappies Labuschagne, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Henco Venter, 3 George Marich, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.

Replacements – 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Brendon Groenewald, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 AJ Coertzen.

EP Kings – 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Shaun McDonald, 5 Darron Nell, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements – 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Steven Cummins, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Dwayne Jenner, 22 Scott van Breda.