Young stars aim for semis

HIGH HOPES: EP under-21 flyer Keanu Vers will have a key role to play when the team face the Lions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
HIGH HOPES: EP under-21 flyer Keanu Vers will have a key role to play when the team face the Lions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow

EP Kings under-21 side on track for success

Southern Kings head coach Barend Pieterse has thrown his weight behind the EP Kings under-21 team as they bid to reach the semifinals of the Currie Cup.

The EP juniors face the Lions tomorrow in the main curtainraiser to the Kings versus Lions Premier Division Currie Cup clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“This is very good for EP Rugby and last year I was involved with the U21 team and half of them are still playing,” Pieterse said.

“They have really good players and I feel they have a strong chance of making the playoffs.

“I think they were robbed against the Bulls earlier in the season and a win in that game could have helped them to be in the semifinal already.

“For EP Rugby it is a good thing because for the past three years the juniors have been our flagship and it will be amazing if they can go through.

“Guys like academy manager Robbi Kempson and EP U21 head coach Darron Nell have been putting in a lot of hard work.

“The nice thing about this is that we all work closely together.

“We watch their games and they come and watch us. There is a good relationship between everyone. I hope people come to watch all the games.”

Though EP’s game against the Lions is a must-win clash, they could sneak into the semis even if they lose.

For that to happen, EP would need to score four tries and earn a losing bonus point and hope they have a better points difference than the Cheetahs.

“We are looking at it as a quarterfinal and we want to win it,’ Nell said.

“We don’t want to have it too complicated. The team just want to win and go through to the semis,” Nell said.

“The Cheetahs could fall out if the Lions win and we get four tries and a losing bonus point.”

The Kings kept their hopes of glory alive when they narrowly beat the Cheetahs 45-44 in a thriller in Bloemfontein last week.

“Players like captain Jeremy Ward are leaving at the end of the year and they will want to leave with good memories.

“So I am confident with this group and I think they know how to win and they will give it a good go against the Lions,” Nell said.

“If we get five points, we could get a home semifinal because our points difference could count.

“We have an outside chance of a home semifinal because it is quite tight at the top.

“The final is always held where senior Currie Cup final is played. That is another massive incentive for the guys.

“With everything that has happened in the last while at EP Rugby, it will great for fans to watch the young guys trying to pull off a Currie Cup win for Port Elizabeth,” Nell said.

In the win over the Cheetahs in their last game, the try scorers for the Kings were Keanu Vers (2), Malcolm Jaer, Matjikinyane Molapo and Xandre Vos.

The EP U21 game kicks off at 2:30pm and the Currie Cup Premier Division match starts at 5:10pm.

The first curtain-raiser at the stadium will pit the EP U19 team against the Lions at 12:30pm.

The EP U21 team:

David Murray, JP Jamieson, NJ Oosthuizen, Wynand Grassmann, Gerrit Huisamen, Jayson Reinecke, Justin Hollis, Lusanda Badiyana, Sbu Ngcokovane, Garrick Mattheus, Jixie Molapo, Luan Nieuwoudt, Jeremy Ward (captain), Keanu Vers, Malcolm Jaer. Reserves: Jedwyn Harty, Roche van Zyl, Robert Lyons, Hayden Tharratt, Luvo Claassen, Simon Bolze, Somila Jho.

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