The Cheetahs and Kings play their first Super Rugby match against each other since 2013, in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cheetahs will be desperate to revive their season this weekend with a victory over South African opposition, while the Kings are chasing their second win of the season after re-entering Super Rugby. The Kings have nothing to lose as they sit stone last in their conference, while the Cheetahs will be trying to stave off pressure from the Sunwolves nipping at their heels in the Africa 1 Conference.
The Kings lead the competition statistics with most missed tackles at 256 which is indicative of how they have fared defensively, while the Cheetahs have missed 213 tackles which is the fourth most in the competition.
The Cheetahs have never lost to the Kings in Super Rugby and the men from Bloemfontein will be looking to extend that record. Although their defence has been poor this season, they remain a competent attacking side with the fourth most tries scores this season at 33.
The last time these teams met: Due to the Kings’ Super Rugby hiatus, they have not played the Cheetahs since 2013 were the Eastern Cape outfit lost 34-22. Johann Sadie scored two tries, while he was joined on the score sheet by Piet Van Zyl and Willie Le Roux. Nicolas Vergallo scored the Kings’ solitary try on the day with Demetri Catrakilis scoring five penalties.
Players to watch: After scoring a hat-trick against the Sunwolves in Bloemfontein, former King Sergeal Petersen will be looking to continue his run of form and further strengthen his try-scoring record. The standout Kings player starting this weekend is Edgar Marutlulle. The hooker has crossed the whitewash 4 times this season and remains a leader in a young and unweathered Kings line up.
Team news: The Bloemfontein outfit will start Michael van der Spuy at inside centre with Francois Venter donning the 13 jersey. Shaun Venter comes back into the starting line-up to face his former side. Paul Schoeman and Uzair Cassiem will start in the back row with Lood de Jager also coming into the starting line-up. Charles Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld and Maks van Dyk will start in the front row after coming off the bench last week to provide a sturdier scrum. The Kings have had to make four changes this week due to injuries. JP du Plessis replaces Stefan Watermeyer at 13, Aidon Davis replaces star loose forward CJ Velleman at eighth-man, JP Jonck will slot in at open-side flank over Chris Cloete and Schalk Oelofse will replace Kings’ captain Steven Sykes.
Form: The Cheetahs have won just two games this season both over their conferences’ wooden spoon-holders, the Sunwolves. The Cheetahs provided an incredible attacking display, scoring 92 points against their Japanese rivals. The Kings have had an even sadder affair with just won win, that also being over the Sunwolves. It must be said, however, that the Kings showed grit against the Blues in Port Elizabeth last weekend, scoring two, well worked tries.
Prediction: The men from Bloemfontein should take this one, as they have a slightly less porous defence, home advantage and a couple more level heads amongst their ranks. Cheetahs to beat Kings by 14.
2013: Cheetahs won 34-22 in Port Elizabeth
2013: Cheetahs won 26-12 in Bloemfontein
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Carl Wegner, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Nico Lee.
Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Shane Gates (c), 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 James Hall, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 JP Jonck, 5 JC Astle, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Louis Fouché, 23 Leighton Eksteen.
Date: Saturday, May 14
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05)
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Johan Greeff