Makazole Mapimpi is the shining light in an inconsistent Cheetahs Pro 14 campaign and his attacking threat should ensure a top four finish and a spot in the play-offs. But he won’t be part of the push for Pro 14 glory play-offs glory because of his Super Rugby move to the Sharks.
The Cheetahs last weekend lost to the Italy’s Zebre, with ill-discipline proving decisive. The South Africans were down to 13 players when Zebre struck twice to turn a deficit into a comfortable two-score advantage. A late try made the final quarter look closer but the hosts were never in danger of losing once they were gifted the two player advantage.
The next two weekends will prove significant for the Cheetahs, who couldn’t have asked for a better climax to the league stages. They play the struggling Kings in back to back matches and should back themselves to collect the maximum in both matches. This league return would ensure a top four finish.
Mapimpi was the star of the Kings 2017 Super Rugby campaign and the speedster has been as good in the Pro 14 playing for the Cheetahs.
He has scored a tournament high nine tries in the Cheetahs 11 matches, six of which have been won.
His 19 clean breaks are also the most by an individual.
The Cheetahs have scored 39 tries but conceded 40, which is decidedly better than the Kings, whose attack has managed just 22 tries. The Kings defence has been fragile throughout the tournament and they’ve conceded 61 tries, the most of any team in the competition.
The Cheetahs, who play the Kings in Port Elizabeth this weekend will be without midfielders Francois Venter and Williams Small-Smith. Hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld will captain the Cheetahs in the absence of Venter.
Clayton Blommetjies is among a trio of players who will be available.
There is some good news, though, with Clinton Swart, Clayton Blommetjies and Henco Venter all fit and available for selection.
The Cheetahs currently are third in Conference A with 30 points from 11 matches. The top two teams are Glasgow and Munster, who have both played 13 matches. Two successive wins against the Kings will consolidate the Cheetahs top three billing, with fourth placed Cardiff Blues on 25 points after 13 matches.