Preview: EP Kings v Pumas

Date published: September 30 2016

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The EP Kings and Pumas will both be determined to end their season with a victory in Port Elizabeth after suffering defeats in all their matches so far.

In the nine Currie Cup Premier Division matches between the sides since 1996, the EP Kings have won two games – one in 2014 and the other in 1998. Both of these victories were in Port Elizabeth, with the last win being by a single point.

The Pumas will enter the match with superior statistics to the EP Kings on attack and defence, while they will draw confidence from the fact that they have secured two bonus points for suffering defeats by seven points or less and three for scoring four tries or more, while the hosts only earned a point for tries.

The Kings have made seven changes to their side. In the back-line there is only one tweak with Siviwe Soyizwapi slotting into the 14 jersey as he replaces Alcino Isaacs. The loose-trio gets a switch up with Brandon Brown starting in the number six jersey while Luke van der Smit moves to the bench.

In the second-row Tazz Fuzani starts at lock after David Antonites suffered an injury to his hand, Fuzani will scrum down with Dylan Pieterse while Vukile Sofisa, Martin Bezuidenhout and Barend Potgieter make up a relatively new combination in the front-row.

Pumas coach MJ Mentz has made seven changes to the starting team which ran out against the Free State Cheetahs last week, as the men from Mpumalanga look to close their Currie Cup campaign on a high note.

Fly-half Francois Brummer, who has started every game of this season’s tournament, has been ruled out due to an ankle ligament injury. Playing his last match for the Pumas, Heinrich Steyl moves from full-back to take up the reins from the former Super Rugby player. Devon Williams will slot into his familiar berth at number 15.

Hennie Skorbinksi is also unavailable for selection after undergoing finger surgery, giving the 102kg Leighton van Wyk another starting opportunity at inside centre. Tyler Fisher has been picked ahead of Ruwellyn Isbell at right wing, whilst scrum-half Emile Temperman has recovered from knee ligament damage to replace Kevin Luiters. Isbell and Luiters will provide back-line cover from the bench, along with Deon Helberg.

In the forwards, Jeremy Jordaan gets his first start in the Pumas jersey at left lock, in place of Stephan Greeff. Hugo Kloppers has been named as the lock replacement. Lambert Groenewald is out with bronchitis, to be replaced by Carel Greeff at flank. Khwezi Mona is being rested with an ankle niggle, with De-Jay Terblanche starting at loosehead prop.

Kings coach Barend Pieterse says their clash against the Pumas could be a tight one.

"It is going to be a bit of an arm wrestle and if there are opportunities for poles in the first few minutes both teams will take them," Pieterse told the Heraldlive.co.za.

"I don’t think it will be one of those games where when there is a penalty a team will kick to touch and attempt to maul and score a try.

"This will be an arm-wrestle and playing for possession."

After a winless Currie Cup thus far, Mentz said that his side are determined to cap off the season with a victory against the bottom-of-the-log Kings.

"We are extremely hungry for a win and the new guys coming this week realise the importance of getting that win. The Kings have played some good rugby in the first half of every game this season and will be just as hungry as us. Obviously it’s never nice to be involved in a bottom-of-the-log clash but there’s still a lot to play for," Mentz said.

The last time these teams met: The Pumas hammered the Kings by scoring eight tries with a final score of 53-20 at Mbombela Stadium. It was a try fest for the Mpumalanga side as both Frank Herne, Lambert Groenewald picked up a brace.

Prediction: Both teams have fought hard despite their win records this season, and though the Pumas might have an advantage on points table, the Kings' home ground advantage should see them through. Kings by five.

The teams:

Eastern Province Kings: 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Ricky Schroeder (c), 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Sebastian Ferreira, 6 Brandon Brown, 5 Dylan Pieterse, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Vukile Sofisa, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Barend Potgieter
Replacements: 16 Warrick Venter, 17 Pieter Stemmet, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Luke van der Smit, 20 Cullen Callopy, 21 Vian van der Watt, 22 Lungelo Gosa

Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Tyler Fisher, 13 Hoffman Maritz, 12 Leighton van Wyk, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Heinrich Steyl, 9 Emile Temperman, 8 Renaldo Bothma (c), 7 Carel Greeff, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Jeremy Jordaan, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Frank Herne, 1 De Jay Terblanche
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Marne Coetzee, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Reuben Johannes, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell

Date: Friday, September 30
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 18:00 local (16:00 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Rodney Boneparte, Christie du Preez

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