Preview: Kings v Sunwolves

Date published: April 1 2016

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Four games each, four losses; that's the long and short of it for the Kings and Sunwolves ahead of their Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium clash.

In patches both have shown they have promise and what can't be criticised is how they have refused to throw in the towel in the early season.

Yes the Kings have already hit the 200 mark for points leaked but they are averaging almost 20 points scored per game, which is admirable for a group of players that endured a rocky pre-season due to events off the field and out of their control. For that they deserve credit.

The Sunwolves too have not had it easy – new teams seldom do – as despite their winless start they have picked up two losing bonus points against the Cheetahs and Bulls. Those were winnable games and despite the flight to Johannesburg, this match will also have been targeted.

It will be interesting to see how the Sunwolves perform in their first ever fixture away from home turf in Super Rugby and with a tougher trip to the Stormers coming next Friday, surely they will go all out for victory this week, a win they are more than capable of claiming.

The Kings though will be buoyed by the fact that both of their two wins at home in Super Rugby history have come against franchises from outside of South Africa (Western Force and the Highlanders).

It's a battle of the basement but one with plenty of intrigue this weekend.

Players to watch: Always a willing runner at inside centre, Shane Gates will hope to feed off fly-half Louis Fouché and get his side over the advantage line. Fouché is another key player who proved at the Bulls he is Super Rugby quality. He's now doing the same at the Kings.

Meanwhile, with a goal-kicking accuracy percentage of 94, Tusi Pisi boasts the highest of any player who's attempted at least 15 shots at goal so far this season. After news he is moving on at the end of this season to Bristol, continuing that form will of course be vital if the Sunwolves are to claim a first win on Saturday. Full-back Riaan Viljoen's running threat is also something the Kings need to contain.

Team news: For the Kings, Luzuko Vulindlu – who suffered concussion in their 42-20 loss to the Hurricanes in Round Five – is replaced by Siyanda Grey on the wing. Aidon Davis will make his first Super Rugby start this term as he replaces Jacques Engelbrecht at number eight.

Sunwolves head coach Mark Hammett changes four in the pack for this clash. Liaki Moli shifts from the back-row and will scrum down on the blindside, Timonthy Bond replaces Moli in the number five jersey. Shinnosuke Kakinaga comes in for Takuma Asahara in the front-row. Tomás Leonardi drops to the bench and Ed Quirk replaces him at number eight. The final change sees Yoshiya Hosoda named amongst the replacements.

Form: As mentioned, it's a combined total of zero wins from eight so far this season for the Kings and Sunwolves, with two losing bonus points keeping Hammett's side above the men from Port Elizabeth. One team will be delighted at the end of this one, the other desperate.

Prediction: After pushing the Bulls close last week, let's go for the Japanese outfit to get a first win on the board. Sunwolves by three.

The teams:

Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jaco van Tonder

Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Timothy Bond, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Futoshi Mori, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Tomás Leonardi, 22 Yuki Yatomi, 23 Mifiposeti Paea

Date: Saturday, April 2
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Rodney Bonaparte
TMO: Christie du Preez

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