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Match Reports - Friday 5 June 2009 - 11:59

Cheetahs v British & Irish Lions

Vodacom Park – Bloemfontein

Date: 6 June 2009 – Kick Off 3pm local time (2pm BST)

UK Television: Sky Sports 2 & HD2 (1.30pm)

Weather: Light rain, High of 20 degrees

Referee: Wayne Barnes

Assistant Referees: Mark Lawrence, Craig Joubert

Television Match Official:Johann Meuwesen

Assessor:Arrie Schoonwinkel

Timekeeper: Albert Mocke

Golden Lions

15. Hennie Daniller

14. Danwel Demas

13. Corne Uys

12. Meyer Bosman

11. JW Jonker

10. Jacques-Louis Potgieter

9. Tewis de Bruyn

8. Hendro Scholtz (capt.)

7. Francois Uys

6. Heinrich Brüssow

5. David de Villiers

4. Nico Breedt

3. Kobus Calldo

2. Adriaan Strauss

1. Wian Du Preez

Replacements:

16. Richard Strauss

17. WP Nel

18. Frans Viljoen

19. Kabamba Floors

20. Gerrie Odendaal

21. Louis Strydom

22. Fabian Juries

British & Irish Lions

15. Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales)

14. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)

13. Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland)

12. Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland)

11. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)

10. James Hook (Ospreys/Wales)

9. Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England)

8. Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales)

7. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)

6. Stephen Ferris (Ulster/Ireland)

5. Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) captain

4. Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland)

3. Euan Murray (Northampton Saints/Scotland)

2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland)

1. Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks/England)

Replacements:

16. Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales)

17. Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales)

18. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)

19. Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland)

20. Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)

21. Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland)

22. Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland)

Match Preview

The British & Irish Lions announced their team for the match against the Free State Cheetahs and included the three players that have yet to get experience of pulling on a Lions shirt on the tour with Donnacha O’Callaghan, Luke Fitzgerald and Leigh Halfpenny all starting.

The side features an inexperienced backline with the centre partnership of Earls and Fitzgerald looking particularly concerning for Lions fans. With an out of form James Hook and Harry Elliis inside them and an out of sorts Shane Williams and youngster Leigh Halfpenny on the outside the backline is full of promise and potential, but short on experience and confidence.

Up front we have a lot more experience and a lot more grunt to shout about with test contenders Euan Murray and Andrew Sheridan either side of Scottish hooker Ross Ford. Behind them tour skipper Paul O’Connell and Donnacha O’Callaghan resume their club and country partnership at lock.

Given that they play virtually every game of their careers whether for Munster or Ireland together we’re struggling to see the value of pairing the two locks together in a valuable warm up fixture when there is the opportunity to take a look at other potential test partnerships? Are we really going to find out anything about this partnership that we don’t already know?

Finally in the back row it appears that Worsley is being given a run out at openside to see what he can bring to the table in that role with Stephen Ferris and Andy Powell at blindside and number 8 respectively.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske highlighted the Lions scrum as a particular area of concern for his side, even though they have one of the brightest prospects in South Africa at loosehead in Wian du Preez and highly rated hooker Adriaan Strauss.

Largely on paper though, the Cheetahs side looks to be a shadow of the side that together with the Griquas makes up the Cheetahs franchise side that finished bottom of the Super 14. Therefore even with the inexperience of the Lions we still think this will be a bit of a one sided affair.

Lions-Tour.com Prediction

The Lions should win this comfortably, but we expect this to be a bit of a forward dominated affair and a little bit scrappy in the backs, particularly so given that we are expecting a little light rain to make handling even more difficult.

Free State Cheetahs 12 British & Irish Lions 28

Paddy Power Betting Preview & free £10 bet

After a vastly improved performance by the Lions against their namesakes on Wednesday, the focus now shifts to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein tomorrow.

There were some notable performances during the week particularly in the backs where Stephen Jones, Jamie Roberts, Brian O’Driscoll and Tommy Bowe all produced impressive displays. There is, however, a new look XV for the clash against The Cheetahs and it is probably the last chance for the tourists to showcase themselves before the Test side begins to take shape against The Sharks and Western Province.

Coach Ian McGeechan has chosen some bold combinations including an all Welsh back three and interestingly an Irish midfield partnership of Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald. Despite Fitzgerald playing most of his rugby on the wing this season, many admirers believe centre to be his best position. Donncha O’Callaghan earns his first start of the tour and Gordon D’Arcy is named on the replacement bench after joining the squad during the week.

The Cheetahs home form was patchy during the Super 14 and they are deprived of star Springbok back rower Juan Smith. Take the Lions to continue their form from midweek and win with a bit to spare. Andy Powell will be chomping at the bit after limited game time and 22/1 for first try scorer represents a good bet.

McGeechan has kept his promise of giving all players a start in the first three games so expect some fireworks as it could be last chance saloon for some players to put their hands up for test spots.

10/11 +16 Cheetahs

20/1 Handicap Draw

10/11 -16 Cheetahs

First Tryscorer

8/1 Shane Williams

9/1 L. Halfpenny

11/1 K. Earls

12/1 Fitzgerald

18/1 Hook

40/1 O’Connell

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