Kings face defence crunch

Skipper Michael Willemse wants the Southern Kings to keep their self-confidence despite a tough start to their campaign. Here he is in the thick of the action during the Super Rugby match between the Southern Kings and the Rebels at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in April this year
Picture: Richard Huggard

But the team is determined to make fans proud, says coach ahead of encounter with speedy Italian side

It will be a battle of the PRO14 Conference B basement dwellers when the struggling Southern Kings get to grips with Benetton Treviso at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Italy tonight.

So far it has been a baptism of fire for the Kings in European rugby and they have failed to register a win or even a losing bonus point in their opening five matches.

Despite this lack of success, Kings skipper Michael Willemse will continue to urge his team to maintain their self-belief as they face the talented Italians.

For the Kings to have any hope of delivering a winning performance, they will have to find a way of plugging the gaping holes in their defence.

So far the Kings’ defence has leaked 27 tries, and head coach Deon Davids knows that a solution to this headache lies at the heart of his team’s problems.

With a massive 192 points scored against them already, the Kings will need to have an urgent re-look at their defensive strategy ahead of what will be another challenging outing.

Benetton have two wins under their belt and they will fancy their chances of picking up maximum points against a struggling Kings side, who have managed to score only seven five-pointers.

Davids said his team were in for a tough match against the inventive and pacy Italians. “There are no easy games in an international competition like the PRO14, but we are determined to do everything we can to make our fans proud,” he said.

“Benetton’s attacking mindset is to get over the advantage line as quickly as possible. They will do that with special plays using big strong runners or the quick feet of their wings. They also have a very good maul.

“For this game we aimed to keep continuity as far as possible, but we had to consider the workload of the players throughout the year. For that reason we rotated some players.

“We need to take away Benetton’s time and space and the Kings will need stopping power beyond the advantage line. As a team our discipline and execution must improve.”

While the Kings were on the receiving end of a 29-13 defeat against the Newport Gwent Dragons, Benetton slipped to a 37-21 loss against Glasgow in their last outing.

Despite their two wins, Benetton are second from the bottom in Conference B after five rounds.

After their match against Benneton, the Kings return to Britain for a match against Glasgow in Scotland. Glasgow are the Conference A group leaders, with a five wins out of five in what has been a flying start for the Scotsmen.

A new centre pairing of Jacques Nel and Luzuko Vulindlu will do duty against Benetton after Berton Klaasen was dropped to the bench.

Tonight’s teams: Southern Kings: (Nos 15 to 9): Masixole Banda, Sibusiso Sithole, Jacques Nel, Luzuko Vulindlu, Alshaun Bock, Pieter–Steyn de Wet, Godlen Masimla. (Nos 1 to 8) Schalk Ferreira, Michael Willemse (capt), Martin Dreyer, Stephan Greeff, Bobby de Wee, Andisa Ntsila, Jurie van Vuuren, Dries van Schalkwyk. Replacements: Tango Balekile, Rossouw de Klerk, Ettienne Swanepoel, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Khaya Majola, Rudi van Rooyen, Oliver Zono, Berton Klaasen. Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Marco Lazzaroni, 4 Dean Budd (C), 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani. Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Robert Barbieri, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Benvenuti, 23 Ian McKinley Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland). The match will be shown live at SS1 at 8pm.

Leave a Reply