The Cheetahs and Stormers will hope to hit the ground running when they return to action, after the Test break, in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Although the Stormers are sitting pretty at the top of the Africa 1 Conference table and the Cheetahs are a whopping 14 points adrift in second place, this is a South African derby in which no quarter will be asked or given.
With the June internationals now over, several Test players return to Super Rugby action although the Cheetahs’ chances of winning this clash improved significantly when the Stormers opted to rest Springbok stalwarts Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi, who were two of their country’s stars in their recent 3-0 series whitewash against France.
Matches between these sides are usually thrilling affairs although the Cheetahs will have extra motivation to win this one after conceding 50 points to the men from the Cape when these sides met in the corresponding fixture in Cape Town earlier this year.
The Stormers have won their last four games against the Cheetahs, restricting them to 12 points or fewer on three occasions in that span. The Cheetahs have trailed at half-time in only one of their last six home South African derbies, though they’ve gone on to win only two of those six with the other encounters all ending in defeat.
Despite heading into this match with a good record in South African derbies, the Stormers have lost their last four games away from home, their longest drought since a stretch of seven road losses in 2014.
The Stormers have conceded only two penalty goals in the second half of games so far this season, fewer than any other team in the competition.
Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his team will have to be at their best in what will be a typically tough derby.
“The Cheetahs are always a tough prospect on their home turf, so we will have to be sharp if we are to come away with the win we are looking for,” he explained.
“The players have trained well this week and we are excited to see what they are able to produce in Bloemfontein.”
2017: Stormers won 53-10 in Cape Town
2016: Stormers won 31-24 in Cape Town
2016: Stormers won 20-10 in Bloemfontein
2015: Stormers won 42- 12 in Cape Town
2015: Cheetahs won 25-17 in Bloemfontein
2014: Stormers won 33-0 in Cape Town
2014: Cheetahs won 35-22 in Bloemfontein
2013: Stormers won 28-3 in Cape Town
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandré Huggett, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jo Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla
Date: Saturday, July 1
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 15:05 local (13:05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)