Preview: EP Kings v FS Cheetahs

Date published: September 10 2015

Both the Eastern Province Kings and Free State Cheetahs will be desperate for victory when they face off in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The Kings are still winless after five matches while the Cheetahs have dropped out of the play-off positions in to fifth spot after suffering a 24-17 loss to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.

Playing at home will boost the Kings. Their confidence will be high in their own backyard after they impressed against tabletoppers the Golden Lions, before going down 37-21 in Johannesburg last weekend.

The Kings' preparations were dealt a blow when their fullback Hansie Graaff received a one-match suspension after being found guilty of striking an opponent in last weekend's clash with the Golden Lions in Johannesburg.

For the Cheetahs, all eyes will be on Springbok flanker Oupa Mohoje, who has been named as the Bloemfontein-based outfit's captain for this clash.

Mohoje returned to action via the bench against the Blue Bulls last weekend, after missing out on selection for the Boks' 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

The 25-year-old has put that disappointment behind him and is looking forward to the challenge of leading the Cheetahs.

“Although it would have been nice to be with the Boks, it is also incredible to be here,” Mohoje told Netwerk24.

“I've already forgotten about the Springboks and I'm just focusing on enjoying myself here. The coach (Franco Smith) has been incredible. He lets you fit in immediately.”

Although players like Rayno Benjamin, Fred Zeilinga and Clayton Blommetjies have impressed with their attacking play this season, keep an eye on another discarded Bok, Cornal Hendricks.

His blistering pace and abiltiy to beat defenders in one-on-one situations are his strengths and he will be out to prove appoint in his first game back since returning from the Springbok set-up.

EP Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has rung the changes to his run-on side for this encounter. 

Inside centre Tim Whitehead will once again captain the side, while regular skipper Luke Watson is still sidelined through injury. Whitehead is joind in midfield by JP du Plessis, who replaces Ronnie Cooke.

Other changes in the backline sees Scott van Breda (full-back), Luther Obi (wing) and Enrico Acker (scrum-half) coming in for Graaff, Sylvian Mahuza and Dwayne Kelly respectively.

Up front, Tim Agaba returns to the starting line-up at number eight while Steven Sykes is also back in the second row. In the front row, Tom Botha and Martin Ferreira take over from Simon Kerrod and Edgar Marutlulle.

Prediction: Although, the Kings should be competitive at home, the visitors should win comfortably. Cheetahs to win by 13 points!

The teams:

Eastern Province Kings: Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Karlo Aspeling, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. 
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Dwayne Kelly, 22 Elgar Watts

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Cornal Hendricks, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje (c), 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys. 
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Sias Ebersohn

Date: Friday, September 11
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Archie Sehlako, Jacques Nieuwenhuis
TMO: Christie du Preez