Cardiff Blues 25 - 20 Cheetahs
Sat 10 February 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 4,703 Ref: Ian Davies Guinness Pro14

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Toyota Cheetahs

Sat 10 Feb 2018 10:49 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Toyota Cheetahs
Following Connacht’s win over Ospreys last night, the Cheetahs currently sit two places ahead of Wales’ Capital Region, and Danny Wilson have a battle on their hands to close the 15-point gap and challenge for a place in the end-of-season play-off.

Gethin Jenkins returns to captain his side as one of 12 changes following last week’s defeat to London Irish in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

He is part of a front row containing more than 220 international caps. as he lines-up alongside Matthew Rees and Anton Peikrishvili.

George Earle is also recalled to face his former side, and is partnered by Seb Davies in the boiler room.

Davies is one of four Wales squad members included in the matchday squad, with Ellis Jenkins also returning to start in the back row with Macauley Cook and Nick Williams.

Lloyd Williams and Jarrod Evans combine at half-back, while Rey-Lee reunites with Garyn Smith in midfield. A young back three of Rhun Williams, Owen Lane and Aled Summerhill is also named.

Dillon Lewis and Tomos Williams are released from Wales duty to feature on the bench, alongside Ryan Edwards, who could make his PRO14 debut for the region.

Meanwhile, Cheetahs are captained by 7-times Springboks-capped, Francois Venter.

They are without PRO14 top try scorer, Makazole Mapimpi, who has moved to Super Rugby outfit, Sharks, but five internationals feature in the starting XV.

Former Scarlets lock, Rynier Bernardo, is also named at lock.
What They Said

Gethin Jenkins insists the next block of four PRO14 fixtures, which sees the Blues also face Munster, Zebre and Benetton Treviso, is crucial but expects a tough challenge against the South African outfit on Saturday.

"We have a few home games now which we are obviously targeting - it's nice to have your home comforts for a few games and they are games that are hopefully winnable," said Jenkins.

"We will get our head down, work on our game and hopefully come out the other side with a few results to push us up the table.

"They are a very dangerous team, they have a lot of speed, a lot of powerful forwards so we know we have our work cut out to beat them.

"But if we manage to impose our game on them and put the things we've been working on into place then I'm sure it will be a good contest."
Macauley Cook, who faced Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in a pre-season game in 2012, believes the visitors will bring a fast, entertaining and open gameplan to the Arms Park.

"We've been looking at how they play this week and it's a bit crazy if I'm being honest," said the utility forward.

"It's not what we're used to seeing, they look to take quick line-outs from anywhere and they like to play off turnovers. 

"Week-in, week-out we're used to coming up against much more structured sides, but Cheetah's style of rugby is what you'd expect from a South African, former Super Rugby, team.

"They can score tries from anywhere on the field, but there's also some chaos in defence and we think we can exploit that with our game. 

"They play from anywhere and it's nice to have something a little bit different in the Championship.

"It's been an intense training week, but now we're looking forward to Saturday and hopefully we'll get the all-important result.

"We've got four games coming up now and three of those are at home so it's a massive period for us. If we can get momentum going in the PRO14, then hopefully we can start climbing the table and get into a position we can be proud of.

"We've got the strength in depth in this squad to deal with this intense period and get some good results."