Cheetahs opt for continuity in the final

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Ruan Pienaar PHOTO: JAKO PIENAAR

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have opted for continuity for this weekend’s big Currie Cup final against the Golden Lions in Bloemfontein.

A few players had some niggles during the week, however, it was nothing that gave the coaching staff any headaches.

The coach, Franco Smith, has made just one change to the starting XV for the final, and this is in the backrow, where Gerhard Olivier earns as start, with Abongile Nonkontwana moving to the replacements.

A second change on the bench sees the seasoned Charles Marais return as cover at loosehead prop, and this means that Schalk van der Merwe misses out on the final. While Marais was part of the team which won the final in 2016, he did not play in the championship due to injury.

William Small-Smith will also be playing in his first final after missing both the semi-final and final in 2016.

The coach, Franco Smith, told OFM Sport that every single player in the squad contributed in some way or another.

“I think that the guys who are not playing will disappointed,” said Smith ahead of his final game in charge of the team.

“Guys like Aranos Coetzee, I think that his heart will be bleeding. He was a part of our campaign until just the other day, and I know that he would have loved to play.

“The other thing is that you don’t need to be a part of the match 23 to make a contribution here and that is something that excites me.

“There are guys like Oupa Mohoje who has been injured for such a long, but he brings a real energy to the training fields. “

Saturday’s big Currie Cup final at the Toyota Stadium kicks off at 17:00.

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Tian Meyer (captain), 10 Tian Meyer, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Oliver, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Erich de Jager, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.

Replacements – 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Abongile Nonkontwana, 22 Louis Fouché, 23 Darren Adonis.

Golden Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Duncan Matthews, 11 Stean Pienaar, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (captain), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith.

Replacements – 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jan-Louis la Grange, 23 Jamba Ulengo. – MORGAN PIEK