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Cheetahs v Lions: Teams
At Free State Stadium, Saturday April 7, kick-off 14.00 BST
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has recalled Springbok loose forward Ashley Johnson to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Lions in Bloemfontein.
Johnson's inclusion on the flank in place of Justin Downey - who moves down to the replacements bench - is the only change to the matchday squad that beat the Hurricanes 47-38 in Wellington last week.
The Cheetahs are on a high after returning from their most successful tour ever to Australia and New Zealand.
They collected 11 points out of a possible 20 after securing victories over the Rebels and the Hurricanes and bonus points in the losses to the Crusaders and Brumbies.
The Lions - who are struggling with injuries - are at the bottom of the table along with the Rebels and the Blues, but have been boosted by the return of first-choice fly-half Elton Jantjies.
Jantjies' selection has led to a number of changes in the back-line that make for a more formidable-looking outfit than in recent weeks - and coach John Mitchell has also addressed the line-out woes of the Lions in selecting his team.
The fitness of Jantjies sees Butch James move to inside centre which in turn releases Jaco Taute for duty at full-back, where he has been so effective in the past 18 months.
James Kamana, who started at full-back in the last two matches but who was injured last weekend, has been declared fit and starts off the bench.
Teenage lock Paul Willemse, a giant of 1,93m and 112kg, will make his Super Rugby debut this weekend. Willemse replaces Marius Coetzer who, despite good work in the tight loose, did little to alleviate the Lions' on-going line-out problems and drops to the bench.
Callie Visagie, who has started in all the matches to date, is also relegated to the bench and Martin Bezuidenhout will start at hooker.
The bad news for the Lions is the injury sustained by number eight Warren Whiteley during training this week which has forced Mitchell to juggle his loose forwards.
Captain Josh Strauss reverts to number eight in Whiteley's place, with Cobus Grobbelaar coming in on the openside flank while Derick Minnie moves to blindside.
Although Michael Bondesio is fit, he will be on the bench with Tian Meyer retained as starting scrum-half after two solid starting performances.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Butch James, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Lionel Mapoe, 22 James Kamana.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com