The Force has named an unchanged squad to tackle the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein’s Free State Stadium on Saturday.

Head Coach Michael Foley has maintained the same 23-man squad that overcame the Bulls, 15-9, in the team’s last match in Perth a fortnight ago.

The match will mark flyhalf Sias Ebersohn’s first in Bloemfontein since joining the Western Australian club from the Cheetahs for the 2013 Super Rugby season. The Bloemfontein-born pivot played 30 matches for the Cheetahs between 2010 and 2012.

Lock Wilhelm Steenkamp, who will start from the bench on Saturday, also makes his return to the Free State, where he played 13 matches for the Cheetahs in 2012. Steenkamp also represented the Bulls (2008-2009, 2012-2013) and the Sharks (2010) before joining the Force this season.

Saturday’s match is the club’s second in a series of four matches against South African opposition, with the Force also to play the Stormers in Cape Town (Saturday, 17 May) before returning to Perth to face the Lions on Saturday, 24 May.

Head coach Michael Foley says the four remaining matches leading into the June Test break represents an important period for his side.

“It was pleasing to see the boys adapt to a different style of game in difficult conditions against the Bulls,” he said.

“The intensity we played with was excellent and will be critical in overcoming the Cheetahs, who have scored the third most tries in the competition this season.

“The Cheetahs present a different challenge to other South Africa sides; while they use their set piece and kicking game as a weapon, they also play with width. If we maintain our work rate and discipline in defence as a 15, we will earn important opportunities to attack from turnover ball.”

The Force will be chasing its first win in Bloemfontein since 2008 when they edged out the Cheetahs, 16-15. The home side has claimed their past two fixtures in the Free State, winning 29-14 in 2010 and 17-13 in 2012.

Force XV: 

1. Pek Cowan
2. Nathan Charles
3. Kieran Longbottom
4. Adam Coleman
5. Sam Wykes
6. Angus Cottrell
7. Matt Hodgson (c)
8.  Ben McCalman
9. Ian Prior
10. Sias Ebersohn
11. Nick Cummins
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Marcel Brache
14. Dane Haylett-Petty
15. Jayden Hayward
 
Replacements:

16. Heath Tessmann
17. Tetera Faulkner
18. Ollie Hoskins
19. Wilhelm Steenkamp
20. Brynard Stander
21. Justin Turner
22. Zack Holmes
23. Chris Tuatara-Morrison