Brumbies Chase Ninth Win

Image courtesy of Debiky/AFP
The Brumbies are Australia's best-placed team in Super Rugby. Image courtesy of Debiky/AFP

Cheetahs v Brumbies
Sunday, May 18, 3:10am (AEST)
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Cheetahs: LLWLL
Brumbies: WLWWW

The Brumbies beat ladder leaders the Sharks 16-9 in former coach Jake White's first visit back to Canberra since walking out mid-contract at the end of last season. The Cheetahs went down 23-16 at home against the in-form Force.

The Cheetahs have suffered a blow with the loss of livewire halfback Sarel Pretorius to an ankle injury. Shaun Venter takes his place. Cornal Hendricks replaces Raymond Rhule on the wing, while in the second row Willem Serfontein will get his first Super Rugby start. They were the overachievers of 2013, but the Cheetahs have managed just two wins from 11 games this season to sit fourth in the South African Conference and 14th overall.

Brumbies and Wallabies winger Joe Tomane will miss up to eight weeks with a fractured cheekbone suffered in a collision with team-mate Ben Alexander last weekend. In better news fellow winger Henry Speight is a chance to return from a broken jaw. Other changes should be minimal, although lock Leon Power and prop JP Smith are likely to be added to the bench. With their hard-fought win over the Sharks, the Brumbies improved to an 8-3 record to hold top spot in the Aussie Conference. They are third on the overall ladder.

The Cheetahs might be languishing at the bottom of the Super Rugby ladder, but their games are always entertaining. They are the worst defensive team in the comp, but are one of the better attacking sides, especially at home. And the Brumbies will be keen to play a bit of rugby after deliberately kicking the ball away against the Sharks.

The Brumbies ended the Cheetahs' campaign in 2013 with a narrow 15-13 qualifying-final victory in Canberra. The Cheetahs won't be playing finals footy this season, but they are still a dangerous opponent on their day, especially in Bloemfontein. Both of the Cheetahs' two victories this year were at home - against the Stormers and Bulls - and they drew with the Chiefs at home too. The Brumbies have won once in three trips to Bloemfontein but on recent form, they might just get away with this.

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