Preview: Sharks v Eastern Province Kings

Date published: September 15 2016

The Sharks will want to get back to winning ways when they host the EP Kings in Durban on Saturday.

The home side lost 30-38 to the Cheetahs last weekend after looking like the dominant side in the Currie Cup. They currently sit at second on the log with the Blue Bulls just behind them as both have 20 points.

The Port Elizabeth side have yet to win a match this season, while the last time the defeated the Sharks was in 1999. The visitors, however, have suffered defeats of eight points or less in their last three matches against the Durbanites, which will motivate them going into the clash.

Sharks coach Robert du Preez says they will not underestimate the EP Kings despite their poor run this season. 

"Both our remaining fixtures are important and we will not be taking Eastern Province lightly.  They showed what they were capable off against the Bulls and we cannot afford to be complacent," Du Preez told the Sharks official website.

"There is a lot to still play for and our preparation has gone well. We need to execute our opportunities and stick to our structures".

Big news for the Durban side is former captain and star play-maker Patrick Lambie returns in a replacement capacity after a long absence from the field due to a concussion he picked up playing for the Springboks against Ireland earlier this year.

In the wake Odwa Ndungane's injury Rhyno Smith takes his place on the wing, while Wandile Mjekevu is in for S’bura Sithole. Scrum-half Michael Claassens replaces Stefan Ungerer to bring added experience to the starting line-up.

There are also a number of changes up front, with Francois Kleinhans shifting to number eight to replace Philip van der Walt who took a nasty smack against Free State and is unavailable this week. This opens the door for Khaya Majola who starts on the flank.

In a rejigged front row, Thomas du Toit shifts to loosehead prop with John-Hubert Meyer coming in at tighthead, and new hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle handed the captaincy.

There are a couple of rotational changes for the Kings with Barend Portgieter starting in the number one jersey with Vukile Sofisa dropping to the bench to the bench.

At hooker Martin Bezuidenhout takes the reins. Etienne Oosthuizen drops to the bench with Brandon Brown taking his place at the side of the scrum.

Lungelo Gosa starts at full-back instead of Johann Tromp at fullback. Waylon Murray starts at inside centre at the expense of JC Greyling who falls out of the squad. 

The last time these teams met: The Sharks beat the Eastern Province Kings 34-26 at the Nelson Mandela Stadium. The visitors smote the Kings with five tries scored by Khaya Majola, Ruan Botha, Heimer Williams, Alrin Eksteen and Wandile Mjekevu. 

Prediciton: Considering the Sharks general dominance this season and the Kings' poor form, the Sharks should win easily in Durban. Sharks by 15. 

The teams:

The Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Inny Radebe, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Francois Kleinhans, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (c), 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Stefan Ungerer, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Neil Maritz

The EP Kings: 15 Lungelo Gosa, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Burton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Ricky Schroeder (c), 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Brandon Brown, 6 Vince Jobo, 5 Sebastian Ferreira, 4 Dylan Pieterse, 3 Justin Forwood, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Barend Portgieter
Replacements: 16 Warrick Venter, 17 Vukile Sofisa, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Luke van der Smit, 20 Vian van der Watt, 21 Minenhle Mthethwa, 22 Alcino Isaacs 

Date: Saturday, September 17
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 15:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Willie Vos