2016-08-31 by Liam Del Carme
Cheetahs v EP Kings
The Cheetahs come off a bye, while the Kings come off another defeat. The hosts are well rested after a flying start to the Currie Cup campaign which includes impressive wins over the Blue Bulls and away to Western Province. They are becoming an established unit with valuable Super Rugby experience under the belt. The Kings are bottom of the points table with just one log point and they are likely to have the same return after this match.
Scarlets v Munster
Exeter thumped the Scarlets 45-3 before Bath beat them at home 32-17 last week. The last time these teams met Munster won on home soil. Munster have won two friendlies in their build up to the new season. Munster, now under the guiding hand of Rassie Erasmus beat Zebre before thumping Worcester Warriors. Munster should have the Scarlets' measure.
Northampton Saints v Bath
The Saints lost to Castres before another slip up against Ulster. The Saints now with barrel chested French No8 Louis Picamoles in their ranks were unable to subdue Ulster who lost two players to the sin bin last week. Bath beat Yorkshire Carnegie, the Scarlets and Leinster in their three warm-up matches, all away from home. This should be a close one.
Stade Francais v Clermont Auvergne
Stade suffered a mildly unexpected reverse at Brive last weekend. They outscored the home team by two tries to one but poor discipline cost them dearly as 18 points were scored against them through penalties. Clermont have been impressive away from home in the last few weeks. They drew against a fired up La Rochelle before earning a hard fought 26-22 victory over Montpellier last weekend. This is a tough one to call but Clermont should have the greater grit if this goes down to the wire.
Western Province v Sharks
Both teams come off wins last week. Western Province travelled to Port Elizabeth and beat the EP Kings by 30 points while the Sharks subdued the Blue Bulls at King's Park. The Sharks have four wins from as many starts but the Cheetahs are likely to show the same return after their clash against the Kings. The Sharks still have a few players unavailable through injury and they may prove hard to beat when their full complement becomes available. This will however be a good character test.