Derby thriller looms
South African PRO14 derby bragging rights will be up for grabs when the Southern Kings and Cheetahs slug it out at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today.
This is the first of three rugby clashes between the sides, with the second scheduled in Bloemfontein next Saturday and the final encounter in Port Elizabeth on April 28.
South African fans have always relished derby games and it will be interesting to see whether today’s clash draws the biggest home crowd of the season.
The Cheetahs will start as strong favourites against a Kings side who have lost 11 straight games and have leaked 61 tries in the process.
But, undaunted after 11 consecutive defeats, optimistic Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids still believes a “big result” is just around the corner for his team.
He will be hoping that exciting flyhalf Oliver Zono and scrumhalf Rowan Gouws ensure the Kings are on the front foot from the kickoff.
“It is nice to be playing at home again and against a South African side. We have not played against a South African team in the PRO14, so we are looking forward to it,” Davids said.
“The Cheetahs have a lot of continuity, they have come from the Currie Cup into this competition and they have been playing some very good rugby.
“Their set pieces and their outside backs have been very good,” he said.
“We have seen some areas of improvement in our last couple of games. Now we aim to ensure that we execute better and that we cut out the small fundamental errors that stop our momentum at crucial times.
“Despite it be being an intense South African derby, it is important that we focus on our own game and that we do things better,” Davids said.
Kings skipper Schalk Ferreira said there had been a hint of excitement in the air all week ahead of the derby.
“There is a natural motivation when you play a South African derby game at home,” Ferreira said.
“The preparations have gone well and our coaches have made our focus quite clear. The Cheetahs have got a really good scrum, set piece and lineouts.
“Our coaches have emphasised that the Cheetahs have attacking outside backs. If we can match and beat them up front then we will have a good shot.”
Cheetahs utility back Niel Marais said his team would go into the game with quiet confidence.
“The team have been chatting this week and it was mentioned that the Kings would get their first win somewhere. We must just make certain that it is not against us.”
While the Kings went down 37-7 against Edinburgh last week, the Cheetahs slipped to a 27-21 defeat to Benetton Treviso in Italy.
“We are determined, in the next two games against the Kings, to push really hard,” Cheetahs head coach Rory Duncan said. “These derby games are always tough, especially the first one in Port Elizabeth. “The Kings are waiting for us. “They would have done a fair amount of homework on us and we have done our homework on them.
“It should be an exciting game,” Duncan said.
Southern Kings: (Nos 1 to 15): Schalk Ferreira, Stephan Coetzee, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Greeff, Bobby de Wee, Eital Bredenkamp, Tienie Burger, Ruaan Lerm, Rowan Gouws, Oliver Zono, Anthony Volmink, Martin du Toit, Berton Klaasen, Michael Makase, Yaw Penxe. Replacements: (Nos 16 to 23) Michael Willemse, Johan Smith, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Lindokuhle Welemu, Freddy Ngoza, Rudi van Rooyen, Ntabeni Dukisa, Harlon Klaasen.
Cheetahs: (Nos 15 to 9) Clayton Blommetjies, Craig Barry, Nico Lee, Niel Marais, Makazola Mapimpi, Fred Zeilinga Shaun Venter. (Nos 1 to 8) Ox Nche, Torsten van Jaarsveld (capt), Tom Botha, Justin Basson, Reniel Hugo, Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem. Replacements: (Nos 16 to 23), Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais, Johan Coetzee, Rynier Bernardo, Junior Pokomela, Henco Venter, Zee Mkhabela, AJ Coertzen. Referee: Stuart Berry
The match will be shown live on SS1 at 5pm.