Kings out to salvage pride
Two teams with different ambitions and contrasting fortunes will battle it out in what should be an absorbing PRO14 encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday night.
The Southern Kings will be playing mainly for pride, while the Cardiff Blues want to ensure they finish high enough on the log to earn a berth in next season’s Champions Cup.
Apart from that incentive, Cardiff also have one eye on their looming Challenge Cup semifinal against French club Pau on April 21.
While the Kings are anchored at the bottom of the Conference B standings with just one win from 19 outings, Cardiff are fourth in the Conference A standings.
Cardiff’s hopes of clinching a PRO14 playoff berth took a big knock when they were pipped 29-27 by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Despite their lowly log position, the Kings are keen to end their season on a winning note.
“We want to play as well as possible in the final two games at home against Cardiff and the Cheetahs,” Kings coach Deon Davids said.
“The Kings have come through a difficult year and I am very impressed by how the players and the rest of the staff all contributed and stuck together.
“The players are positive and we really want to enjoy ourselves in these last two games and ensure we give of our best.”
Cardiff coach Danny Wilson said: “We need to qualify for the Champions Cup. There are still games for us to win and there are still games for the Cheetahs to possibly lose.
“We all knew the importance of the Cheetahs game to stay in touch with the playoffs. But we still have a huge amount to play for and a semifinal in the European Challenge Cup, which is also very high on our agenda.”
Cardiff have made eight changes for tonight’s clash.
Four of the changes come in the pack, with Scott Andrews given the nod in the front row and Josh Turnbull coming into the second row.
Nick Williams starts at No8 and Ellis Jenkins captains the side from the openside flank.
In the backs, Gareth Anscombe switches to full-back, with Jarrod Evans partnering Tomos Williams at half-back, while Rey Lee-Lo returns to the centre.
Southern Kings: (nos 15 to 9): Masixole Banda, Michael Makase, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Yaw Penxe, Ntabeni Dukisa, Godlen Masimla. (Nos 1 to 8): Schalk Ferreira (capt), Stephan Coetzee, Rossouw de Klerk, Bobby de Wee, Lubalalo Mtayanda, Lusanda Badiyana, Martinus Burger, Ruaan Lerm. Replacements: (Nos 16 to 23): Tando Balekile, Justin Forwood, Luvuyo Pupuma, Lindokuhle Welemu, Khaya Majola, Rudi van Rooyen, Alshuan Bock, Harlon Klaasen.
Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Blaine Scully; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kirby Myhill, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins (Capt), Nick Williams. Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Brad Thyer, Anton Peikrishvili, Damian Welch, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Matthew Morgan.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland).
The match will be shown live on SS1 at 7.35pm.