Kings out to stake their claim through win over Leopards

George Byron

THE EP Kings will be desperate to end the unbeaten run of the Leopards when the teams clash in an Absa Currie Cup First Division match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tonight (kick-off 7pm).

Victory over the Leopards would mark the Kings as strong contenders for a Currie Cup promotion match at the end of the season.

After slumping to defeat against the Pumas in their opening match at home, the Kings hit back with a 37-21 win over the Griffons in Welkom last weekend.

The Leopards have made a strong start to the competition, beating the Falcons and Boland Cavaliers convincingly.

“The win over the Griffons lifted morale after we lost our opening game against the Pumas,” Kings coach David Maidza said.

“But we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground because we know there is a still a lot of work to be done.

“Against the Pumas we did not play for one another and there are still a few items we need to tidy up.

“In the first half against the Griffons, we kept ball in hand through a couple of phases and we scored four tries.

“It was a taxing trip to Welkom, but the guys really knuckled down and put in the hard yards.”

Asked whether his team could go all the way and challenge for First Division honours, Maidza said: “The guys are decent enough to compete at this level and win. That will come from self-confidence in a squad.”

The Kings were set on the path to victory over the Griffons thanks to tries from Aidon Davis, Dalton Davis, Hadleigh Parkes, Siviwe Soyizwapi and Ross Geldenhuys in Welkom. Reliable flyhalf Wesley Dunlop also played his part, with three conversions and two penalties.

The forward battle, in particular, is expected to be decisive as both teams have strong packs.

The flyhalf duel between the Leopards’ Adriaan Engelbrecht and his opposite number Dunlop is also expected to be influential.

Like the Leopards, the Pumas will also look to stretch their unbeaten run in the First Division, but for the Griffons, Border and Falcons, the need to get their campaigns going will be the motivating factor as they need to keep their semifinal hopes alive.

In an action-packed day today, the Falcons host the SWD Eagles in Kempton Park, the Boland Cavaliers take on the Border Bulldogs in Wellington and the Pumas battle the Griffons in Nelspruit.

EP Kings team: Scott van Breda, Eben Barnard, Wayne Stevens, Tiger Mangweni (capt), Ntabeni Dukisa, Wesley Dunlop, Scott Mathie, Brenden Olivier, Dane van der Westhuyzen, Ross Geldenhuys, Thembelani Bholi, Samora Fihlani, Rynier Bernardo, Kuselo Moyake, Dalton Davies. Replacements: Albie de Swart, Lizo Gqoboka, Wayne van Heerden, Renier Erasmus, Dwayne Kelly, Marlou van Niekerk, Andile Jho.

Today’s fixtures: 3pm: Falcons v SWD Eagles, Barnard Stadium; 4pm: Boland Cavaliers v Border, Boland Stadium; 7pm: EP Kings v Leopards, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Pumas v Griffons, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit.

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