Cape Town - The Cheetahs and Southern Kings will be determined to make their presence felt when they host visitors from Italy and Ireland this weekend as the PRO14 resumes after a two-week break.
The Free Staters suffered a heart-breaking 30-26 defeat against Munster in their last outing following victory against the Cardiff Blues the previous week, while the men from Port Elizabeth come off two seven-point defeats in a row, which they will be determined to bounce back from when they return to the field.
The Cheetahs host Benetton in Bloemfontein in the only match on Saturday (14:30 kick-off), while the Southern Kings take on Connacht in Port Elizabeth on Sunday (15:00).
In the clash at the Free State Stadium, the Cheetahs will look to build on their encouraging win record against Italian opposition, showing two victories in three matches, when they host Benetton.
The teams met for the first time in January in Treviso, and Benetton ground out a 27-21 victory. This narrow defeat, combined with the fact that Benetton come of back-to-back losses will undoubtedly give the hosts confidence as they look to power their way up the standings after a slow start to the season.
The Cheetahs will also draw confidence from the fact that only one of Benetton’s three victories this season was away from home. The home team’s attack has been marginally better than that of the Italians so far this season, but the visitors’ defence has been superior with 13 fewer tries conceded in their eight matches.
In Port Elizabeth, the Southern Kings will go in search of their first victory against Connacht, and Irish opposition, since joining the PRO14 last season. The teams have only met once before, and that match was in Galway last year, where the Kings went down 32-10.
The home side will also enter the match with a better attacking record, with 23 tries scored to Connacht’s 21, but similarly to the Cheetahs, they will have to stand their ground on defence after conceding almost double the amount of points in the first eight rounds.
PRO 14 Round 9 fixtures:
Cheetahs v Benetton
Date: Saturday, November 24
SA time: 14:30
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse and Jaco Kotze
TMO: Johan Greeff
Southern Kings v Connacht
Date: Sunday, November 25
SA time: 15:00
Venue: Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Paul Mente and Ruhan Meiring
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Other Round 9 matches (SA kick-off times):
Friday, November 23:
21:35 - Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
21:35 - Leinster v Ospreys, RDS Arena, Dublin
21:35 - Scarlets v Ulster, Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Sunday, November 25:
17:30 - Zebre v Munster, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
19:30 - Dragons v Edinburgh, Rodney Parade, Newport