Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings will face a tough test in the Guinness PRO14 this weekend as they line up against the only unbeaten teams in the competition in the fourth round of the competition.
The Free Staters will kick off the weekend’s action on Friday evening against Ulster in Bloemfontein, while the men from the Eastern Cape take on the Glasgow Warriors in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
At the Toyota Stadium, the Toyota Cheetahs will be hunting their first victory of the season against the Irishmen, who will be looking to stretch their winning run in the competition to four matches, and maintain their unbeaten status against South African sides.
The teams have only met once before in Belfast, where Ulster registered a convincing 42-19 victory. They have been closely matched on attack this season, with both sides boasting six tries in the first three rounds, which should boost the Toyota Cheetahs’ confidence.
However, good discipline will be vital for Franco Smith’s men, as Ulster have kicked 11 penalty goals so far in the competition – all by John Cooney, the top try-scorer in the series – while they also need to tighten up their defence after conceding 52 points last week.
They will also have to contain Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee, who has been a stand-out performer on attack and defence, with 22 carries last week alone, while he was also a handful at the breakdowns.
The Isuzu Southern Kings will also have their work cut out against the Glasgow Warriors at the Nelson Mandela University, as the visitors will be high on confidence after three victories in a row – two of which were on the road – and with two bonus points for tries.
The Port Elizabeth outfit went down 43-13 in the only other match between the sides in Glasgow, but with coach Deon Davids’ men showing promise on attack this season, they are expected to challenge the visitors.
The Isuzu Southern Kings, however, will have to be rock-solid on defence as the Glasgow Warriors are the joint top try-scorers in the competition with 14 tries, while they will also need to improve their finishing after missed opportunities cost them two possible victories in the last three weeks.
Guinness PRO14 Round 4 fixtures:
Toyota Cheetahs v Ulster
Date: Friday, 21 September
SA time: 19h15
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (SRU) and Ben Crouse (SARU)
TMO: Johan Greeff (SARU)
Isuzu Southern Kings v Glasgow Warriors
Date: Saturday, 22 September
SA time: 15h00
Venue: Nelson Mandela University Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU) and Paul Mente (SARU)
TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)
Other Round 4 action (SA kick-off times):
Friday, 21 September:
20h35 – Cardiff Blues v Munster – Cardiff Arms Park
Saturday, 22 September:
18h15 – Connacht v Scarlets – The Sportsground, Galway
18h15 – Dragons v Zebre – Rodney Parade, Newport
20h35 – Leinster v Edinburgh – RDS Arena, Dublin
20h35 – Ospreys v Benetton – Liberty Stadium, Swansea