The Toyota Free State Cheetahs host the Xerox Golden Lions A in the Currie Cup Final at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday, with live coverage on Sky Sports Arena beginning at 3.50pm.
The game will mark the third time the teams meet in the final, with both previous finals between these sides having taken place in Bloemfontein, in 1994 and 2007.
With both sides finishing the pool stages of the Currie Cup Premier Division with four wins from their six pool games, and only two points separating the teams on the scoreboard in their pool match in Bloemfontein earlier in the season (the Xerox Golden Lions won 24-22), much is expected of this final.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs are chasing their first title since 2016, when they won 36-16 at home against the Vodacom Blue Bulls, while the Xerox Golden Lions last claimed the trophy in 2015 after beating DHL Western Province 32-24 in Johannesburg.
The Free Staters have won three and lost two of their last five matches against Xerox Golden Lions in Bloemfontein, which will give the visitors confidence going into the clash.
The hosts will take comfort in the fact that their attack has been better this season with 256 points and 37 tries scored to the visitors’ 197 points and 27 tries. On defence both teams have been closely matched, with the Xerox Golden Lions conceding only 10 points more.
The match will have extra significance for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, who will be determined to bid a memorable farewell to their head coach, Franco Smith, who will lead the Italian national team after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Smith has made two changes to his match-day squad, with flanker Gerhard Olivier promoted from the bench to the starting lineup, which sees Abongile Nonkontwana start among the replacements. Joining Nonkontwana on the bench is the experienced loosehead prop Charles Marais, who is back from injury.
Xerox Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen makes one change to his starting team with prop Dylan Smith replacing the injured Sti Sithole, which means former Junior Springbok Nathan McBeth is named among the replacements.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs Team
15. Clayton Blommetjies, 14. William Small-Smith, 13. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12. Dries Swanepoel, 11. Tian Meyer (captain), 10. Tian Schoeman, 9. Ruan Pienaar.
1. Ox Nche, 2. Joseph Dweba, 3. Erich de Jager, 4. Sintu Manjezi, 5. Walt Steenkamp, 6. Gerhard Olivier, 7. Junior Pokomela, 8. Henco Venter.
16. Jacques du Toit, 17. Charles Marais, 18. Reinach Venter, 19. JP du Preez, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Abongile Nonkontwana, 22. Louis Fouche, 22. Darren Adonis.
Xerox Golden Lions Team
15. Tyrone Green, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 12. Duncan Matthews, 11. Stean Pienaar, 10. Shaun Reynolds, 9. Ross Cronje (captain).
1. Dylan Smith, 2. Pieter Jansen, 3. Jacobie Adriaanse, 4. Ruben Schoeman, 5. Marvin Orie, 6. Marnus Schoeman, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Hacjivah Dayimani.
16. Jan-Henning Campher, 17. Nathan McBeth, 18. Johannes Jonker, 19. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20. Len Massyn, 21. Dillon Smit, 22. Jan-Louis la Grange, 23. Jamba Ulengo.