Free State find right balance

The Vodacom Cheetahs team to play the Sharks in Bloemfontein sees five changes to the side that won 68-12 in Witbank.

Eddie Fredericks replaces Gavin Paasens on the wing, while Michael Claasens rotates with Falie Oelschig at scrumhalf. In the forwards, Ryno van der Merwe is selected at openside flank ahead of Kabamba Floors, and Rory Duncan comes in for Quinton Davids. Ollie le Roux moves back to the loosehead side which allows Jannie du Plessis to return at the expense of his Grey Bloem schoolmate, Wian du Preez.

Ollie le Roux told this website earlier in the week about his team’s extensive preparations for this match, and so it is little surprise that there are few changes in key positions. The most notable move is that of Floors to the bench, which indicates that he will reprise his role as an impact player in the last 20 minutes, while Van der Merwe will do the dirty work for the first hour or so.

The return of Du Plessis to tighthead was to be expected, with the Sharks possessing the form loosehead in the country, Kees Lensig. Du Plessis struggled in their previous meeting, and will be targeted by the more experienced player. Apart from that game in Durban, the Free State No 3 has had a great season.

The only other changes to the squad are that of centre JW Jonker and loose forward Heinrich Brussouw coming onto the bench. Brussow’s selection as a replacement second rower is especially interesting, and suggests that the pack will be looking for more mobility in the second half when the game breaks open. This is when the likes of Floors and Brussouw should flourish.

Vodacom Cheetahs: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Hendrik Meyer, 11 Gaffie du Toit, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Darron Nel, 7 Bian Vermaak, 6 Ryno van der Merwe, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 Rory Duncan, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Ollie le Roux (c). Replacements: 16 Jaco du Toit, 17 Kobus Calldo, 18 Kabamba Floors, 19 Heinrich Brussouw, 20 Falie Oelschig, 21 JW Jonker, 22 Philip Burger.