Western Force unchanged for Cheetahs clash

Western Force coach Michael Foley has retained the team that beat the Bulls for this week’s Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfonteinon Saturday

The Force beat the Bulls 15-9 in Perth and had a bye last week.

The match will mark flyhalf Sias Ebersohn’s first in Bloemfontein since joining the Western Australian club from the Cheetahs for the 2013 Super Rugby season. The Bloemfontein-born pivot played 30 matches for the Cheetahs between 2010 and 2012.

Lock Wilhelm Steenkamp, who will start from the bench on Saturday, also makes his return to the Free State, where he played 13 matches for the Cheetahs in 2012. Steenkamp also represented the Bulls (2008-2009, 2012-2013) and the Sharks (2010) before joining the Western Force this season.

Saturday’s match is the club’s second in a series of four matches against South African opposition, with the Force also to play the Stormers in Cape Town (Saturday, 17 May) before returning to Perth to face the Lions on Saturday, 24 May.

Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says the four remaining matches leading into the June Test break represents an important period for his side.

“It was pleasing to see the boys adapt to a different style of game in difficult conditions against the Bulls,” he said.

“The intensity we played with was excellent and will be critical in overcoming the Cheetahs, who have scored the third most tries in the competition this season.

“The Cheetahs present a different challenge to other South Africa sides; while they use their set piece and kicking game as a weapon, they also play with width. If we maintain our work rate and discipline in defence as a 15, we will earn important opportunities to attack from turnover ball.”

The Force will be chasing its first win in Bloemfontein since 2008 when they edged out the Cheetahs, 16-15. The home side has claimed their past two fixtures in the Free State, winning 29-14 in 2010 and 17-13 in 2012.

Western Force

1. Pek Cowan,2. Nathan Charles,3. Kieran Longbottom,4. Adam Coleman,5. Sam Wykes,6. Angus Cottrell,7. Matt Hodgson (c),8. Ben McCalman,9. Ian Prior,10. Sias Ebersohn,11. Nick Cummins ,12. Kyle Godwin,13. Marcel Brache,14. Dane Haylett-Petty,15. Jayden Hayward

Replacements : 16. Heath Tessmann,17. Tetera Faulkner ,18. Ollie Hoskins,19. Wilhelm Steenkamp,20. Brynard Stander,21. Justin Turner,22. Zack Holmes ,23. Chris Tuatara-Morrison

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