Pro 14: Cheetahs v Leinster Preview

Leinster get their first ever taste of Free State rugby when they visit the Cheetahs on Saturday the 23rd of September in Bloemfontein.

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Cheetahs v Leinster | 22 September 20h00 | Toyota Free State Stadium

To Win (80min)
Cheetahs 47/20 | Draw 25/1 | Cheetahs 1/7
Cheetahs 9/10 (+13.5) | Leinster 9/10 (-13.5) 

Leinster get their first ever taste of Free State rugby when they visit the Cheetahs on Saturday in Bloemfontein. Alternatively, the hosts, fresh off their first ever win in the competition, will look to upset the dangerous Irishmen and record another, while the men in Blue will have their sights on building on their early-season momentum.

Last weekend’s 54 – 39 home defeat of Zebre would have been met with huge celebration by the Cheetahs. The importance of finally getting off the ground in their inaugural competition should not be understated, and they will now tackle their next few opposition with less pressure on their shoulders.

That said, Zebre aren’t exactly title-favourites and their struggles in the tournament have been well documented. Leinster offer the Cheetahs perhaps their biggest challenge yet, with the Irishmen having swept all before them in the competition to date. I may sound like a stuck record, but the Cheetahs will need to seriously up the ante on defence to hault the likes of Joey Carbery and Dave Kearney from crossing the whitewash. Leinster showed against the Kings what they can do against a passive defence, and the Cheetahs will need to keep that in mind as they go into Saturday’ encounter.

Leinster powered their way to a 31-10 win over the Kings last weekend, and with the likes of captain Isa Nacewa returning ahead of Saturday, they may be in for a repeat performance. Despite the continued absence of Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Tadgh Furlong and Garry Ringrose (amongst others), they should be far too strong for their hosts. The pace, power and accuracy of their game really is a joy to watch, and this Saturday should be no different.

The bizarre incident regarding experienced prop Cian Healy dominated headlines this week. The 29-year-old was forced off one of the team’s flights for refusing to turn off his laptop during take-off, and coach Leo Cullen would have been furious at the former’s total lack of respect, and the bearings it may have on his side’s performance. Nevertheless, he should have more than enough firepower at his disposal to put away the Cheetahs this Saturday, despite the ongoing off-field distractions.

Verdict: Leinster 1/7 (-13.5)
Leinster will be far too much for the Cheetahs to deal with on the weekend. They should do to the Free Staters what they did in PE seven-days ago, and record a comfortable victory without much hassle.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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