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Super Rugby preview: Cheetahs v Stormers
The Cheetahs and the Stormers will have more than competition points to play for when they face off in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
As the tournament's basement dwellers, and with just one point separating the Stormers, who are in 14th place - on 10 points - and the home side, who are 15th, victory will have extra significance as the losers will occupy the bottom place.
Victory will come as a relief for the winners but will not be enough to take them higher than second last place in the standings, as their closest rivals, on the table, the 13th-placed Rebels are six points ahead of the Stormers at the moment.
Both sides have reached the playoffs in recent seasons but have been found wanting in 2014. On the one side, the home side's defence has let them down more often than not, especially late in matches, although they defended very well in their loss to the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
The Cheetahs have conceded at least five more tries (14) than any other side in the last 20 minutes of games this year.
And on the other hand, the Stormers have struggled to score tries - only the Lions with 11 have scored less than the Stormers' 12 - while the Cheetahs' 22 five-pointers is the most of all South African sides.
The Stormers delivered a superb first half performance in their victory over the Lions, scoring 18 unanswered points and crossed for two tries in the process.
They reverted to their old ways again in the second half and failed to add to that tally while also conceding a penalty to their visitors from the Johannesburg.
Allister Coetzee knows that a similar showing could prove disastrous in Bloemfontein. A key battle to keep an eye on is at the breakdown. Springbok back-row Heinrich Brussow made an impressive return in that department against the Sharks and faces stiff opposition from the visitors flankers, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr, who are also fine foragers.
The Stormers have an ace up their sleeve in hooker Deon Fourie, who has also shone on the side of the scrum in several matches for the visitors. The battle between him and Brussow for turnover possession has been one of the talking points in the build up to the game and could play a big part in determining the game's outcome.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Waltie Vermeulen, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Riaan Smit, 23 Cornal Hendricks.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Devon Williams, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
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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