Super Rugby match preview: Brumbies v Cheetahs
The Cheetahs travel to Canberra on Sunday to face the Brumbies with a place in the Super Rugby semi-finals at stake.
Last Updated: 21/07/13 10:08am
Sunday's showdown at the Canberra Stadium will be the eighth meeting between the sides but the first this season after the Super Rugby draw kept the pair apart throughout the 2013 campaign.
Jake White's Brumbies hold the advantage on previous meetings having won five while the Cheetahs have only prevailed twice but the South African side have already triumphed over Australian opposition four times this term.
White has made three changes to his starting line-up following a shock 21-15 defeat at the hands of Western Force last weekend.
Wallaby winger Joe Tomane has been dropped to the bench as Clyde Rathbone starts on the left flank, while Nic White regains his place in the No 9 shirt alongside Matt Toomua.
In the pack, Australia's veteran flanker George Smith returns to the starting XV with Colby Faingaa dropped to the bench as the Brumbies seek a sixth semi-final date.
Meanwhile, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske is sticking with the formula which beat the Blues 34-13 last time out by naming an unchanged starting line-up.
While it could be assumed a bye in the final round of regular season matches gives the Cheetahs an advantage, the last time the Bloemfontein-based franchise had a week out of action they suffered defeat at home to foot-of-the-table Highlanders.
The Cheetahs have travelled well during the 2013 campaign with five victories from eight, while the Brumbies have made a fortress in Canberra, losing just one game on home soil.
This is the first time Drotske's men have reached the knockout stages of the competition in their nine-year history after a remarkable season sealed second spot in the South African conference.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (capt), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy , 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (capt), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Rayno Benjamin.
What they said...
Brumbies winger Henry Speight
"I am really excited about the game, it's been nine years since the last finals have been held in Canberra so it's really exciting times.
"I am expecting a lot more pressure in the game, knowing that it is a playoff game and whoever wins gets a semi-final spot.
"I think it's crucial that we minimise our individual errors and if it's a tight game like it was last weekend, I think it's more onus on the outside backs to work off the wings and look for more work."
Cheetahs head coach Naka Drotske
"We have done all the hard work and now we are in the knock out stages. It doesn't stop here."