The Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings will have their sights set on strong finishes to their Guinness PRO14 tours when they line up against the Cardiff Blues and Ospreys in Wales on Saturday, in what marks their penultimate matches in 2019 in the competition.
The Isuzu Southern Kings will take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea at 17h00 (SA time), with the Toyota Cheetahs and Cardiff Blues meeting at Cardiff Arms Park directly after at 19h15 (SA time). They will then have a two-week break, before making one last short trip to the UK before the festive season break.
The Free Staters will be hoping the artificial field in Cardiff will help them break their duck after back-to-back defeats. This followed a sensational start to the season where they recorded three wins in a row at home. Should they register a victory, it would be their first win under new coach Hawies Fourie.
“We were disappointed that we didn’t win the last two games,” said Fourie.
“We came very close in both of them. In the game against the Scarlets, in particular, it was difficult to adapt to the wet and windy conditions, and we couldn’t play our normal style of rugby.
“This weekend against the Cardiff Blues there could be rain again according to the weather forecast. Our practices, however, have all been in good, dry weather, so we haven’t had a chance to train in the rain.
“But our plans are right, and we are playing on an artificial surface, which is fast, and that should suit the way we play. We chose the team in such a way that if there is enough speed on the outside and we get enough ball, we can give ourselves a good chance to win.”
Fourie added: “It would be nice to get onto the flight with a win. It’s always difficult with the last game before returning home, but I’m confident the guys will be ready and up for it. They have next week off, so we know they will give everything on the field.”
Isuzu Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson, meanwhile, hoped for an improved performance from his team against Ospreys after going down scoreless against the Glasgow Warriors last week.
“We have a young side, but that is no excuse for the result we got against Glasgow,” said Kempson.
“They came out firing, and we should be able to handle whatever is thrown at us. Ospreys are a new and different challenge for us. They come off a loss to Connacht and will be desperate for a win. We are expecting quite a hefty forward battle, and we need to combat this.
“We are looking for more entry in terms of how we play the game, and regardless of the conditions, we are looking to be a bit more ambitious in how we want to be play in the Guinness PRO14 going forward.”
Ospreys v Isuzu Southern Kings
SA time: 17h00
Date: Saturday, 9 November
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Referee: Andrea Piardi
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse and Gianluca Gnecchi
TMO: Alan Falzone
Cardiff Blues v Toyota Cheetahs
SA time: 19h15
Date: Saturday, 9 November
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Referee: Ben Blain
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson and Fin Brown
TMO: Andrew McMenemy