Cheetahs more urgency in second Force clash

The 19-year-old Ronan Leahy of the Western Force (left) and Marnus van der Merwe of the Cheetahs (right) each scored tries in the opening game of the Toyota Challenge in Bloemfontein. The Cheetahs hooker, Van der Merwe, scored twice in their 31-27 victory. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs will be fielding a totally different team when they play against the Western Force in the second game of the Toyota Challenge in Bloemfontein.

On Friday the Cheetahs drew first blood when they edged the Force 31-27 at the Toyota Stadium in what was the first game between the two teams in more than seven years.
A Marnus van der Merwe brace as well as tries by Gideon van der Merwe and Marko Janse van Rensburg, saw the Cheetahs beating the Perth-based franchise to earn a winner cheque of R250 000. The seasoned Springbok, Ruan Pienaar, contributed with 11 points in the game with four conversions and a penalty.

The 19-year-old winger, Ronan Leahy, as well as the debutant, Harry Potter, and Gio Leituala all scored tries for the visitors, while the flyhalf and co-captain, Max Burey landed two penalties and two conversions.

This week the Cheetahs will almost totally rotate their squad and there is a debut on the cards for the former Stormers flyhalf, Abner van Reenen. Van Reenen will start the match at outside centre, with George Lourens at flyhalf, while the American international Ruben de Haas will start at scrumhalf in his return to the Cheetahs from the English club, Saracens.

Upfront, the towering lock, Carl Wegner, will also make his return to the Cheetahs following moving back to Bloemfontein following a stint at the Treviso-based Italian URC team, Benetton.

Wegner is no stranger to the Cheetahs and the product of Grey College will be playing for the team union for the fourth stint of his career.

He has previously also played for the CUT Ixias, Stade Francais (France) and Toyota Verblitz (Japan).

“We were not happy with the performance, but we were glad that we could pull it through,” said Fourie.

“The forwards pulled us through with four mauls tries. We are going to change the team totally and I told the players if you’re healthy and fit, you will get game time in these two games against the Force. It’s for the players to try and stake a claim for the tour to Australia.

“There will be a lot of changes and hopefully the team that will play on Saturday will show a bit more urgency.”

Saturday’s second and last match between the Cheetahs and Force at the Toyota Stadium kicks off at 15:00. – MORGAN PIEK