Southern Kings must put boot in
It is time for the Isuzu Southern Kings to be ruthless and put the boot in when they face a severely depleted Scarlets side in a Guinness PRO14 clash on Friday night.
Decimated by international call-ups and injuries, Scarlets will be without 19 regular players at the Madibaz Stadium – 12 Scarlets players are with the Wales Test squad, six are injured and Kieron Fonotia is suspended.
Both teams lost their previous two matches and know their season is at a crossroads as they enter round seven.
While the Kings have been out of action for three weeks after PRO14 losses on the road to Scarlets and Benetton Treviso, Scarlets have seen action in the Champions Cup.
After losses against Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers, Scarlets’ Champions Cup hopes are hanging by a thread – and that will make them a dangerous beast in Port Elizabeth.
“I don’t think Scarlets will deviate much from what they have done against us before,” Kings head coach Deon Davids said.
“They have a good scrum and maul which puts you under pressure. Scarlets also like to use the width of the field.
“So I think we can expect the same sort of game as earlier, even though they are missing some quality players.
“If you look at the depth of the Scarlets squad, it will be a very tough game.”
Their 26-man squad includes South African internationals Uzair Cassiem and Werner Kruger, former Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies and former Kings lock David Bulbring.
Davids has opted for consistency in his backline, naming an unchanged back seven from the team that did duty against Benetton.
Loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira, who missed the match against Benetton due to a fractured nose, is back in the starting lineup.
Hooker Alandre van Rooyen will make his first start of the season in the place of the injured Michael Willemse.
Loose forward Stephan de Wit comes in at No 6 in a rotational switch for CJ Velleman, who falls out of the match-day 23 squad.
Newcomers Tertius Kruger and Fijian Meli Rokoua have been included on the bench.
“Even though CJ has recovered, this rotation also gives him more time in recovery,” Davids said.
Meanwhile, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “It’s going to be a good challenge, but we did well last time we were in Port Elizabeth to get a bonus point win.
“We know we’re going to have to play well with more possession and territory than at Leicester.”
(Nos 15 to 9): Masixole Banda, Yaw Penxe, Harlon Klaasen, Berton Klaasen, Bjorn Basson, Martin du Toit, Godlen Masimla. (Nos 1 to 8): Schalk Ferreira, Alandre van Rooyen, Luvuyo Pupuma, Schalk Oelofse, JC Astle (capt), Stephan de Wit. Ruaan Lerm, Andisa Ntsila. Replacements: (Nos 16 to 23) Tango Balekile, Justin Forwood, Luphumlo Mguca, Stephan Greeff, Martinus Burger, Rudi van Rooyen, Tertius Kruger, Meli Rokoua.
(Nos 15 to 9) Clayton Blommetjies; Johnny McNicholl, Paul Asquith, Steff Hughes (capt), Ioan Nicholas; Dan Jones, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne. (Nos 1 to 8): Phil Price, Marc Jones, Werner Kruger, Steve Cummins, David Bulbring, Will Boyde, Josh Macleod, Uzair Cassiem. Replacements: (Nos 16 to 23) Dafydd Hughes, Dylan Evans, Simon Gardiner, Tom Price, Josh Helps, Kieran Hardy, Morgan Williams, Ed Kennedy.
John Lacey (Ireland).
The match will be shown live on SS1 at 7pm.