Preview: Western Province v EP Kings

Date published: September 4 2014

Western Province will be keen to extend their lead at the top of the table when they host the EP Kings in Cape Town on Friday.

Western Province will be keen to extend their lead at the top of the table when they host the EP Kings in Cape Town on Friday.

The hosts head into this encounter as the only unbeaten team left in the eight-team competition while the Kings – along with Griquas – are yet to taste victory this season.

WP had to work hard in the corresponding fixture – in Port Elizabeth in Round One – before securing a 35-16 victory.

Being unbeaten makes the hosts favourites but their coach Allister Coetzee is not taking their opponents lightly.

“The Kings pushed the Lions in Port Elizabeth last weekend and (Lions coach) Johan Ackermann said as much,” said Coetzee.

Despite their unbeaten run, WP had to work hard before securing a 23-18 victory over the Blue Bulls in Pretoria last weekend. They are not at the top of the standings by luck, however.

Although the entire team has done well in previous matches, keep an eye on the back row of Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes and Siya Kolisi who have combined brilliantly throughout the campaign.

Carr and Kolisi have developed an almost telepathic understanding on attack, and both are adept at winning turnovers, while Rhodes is one of the hardest workers in the team.

The Kings' return to the Premier Division have been a humbling experience although they haven't disgraced themselves entirely. In their most recent match against the Golden Lions, in Port Elizabeth, they suffered a 41-22 defeat but were trailing 21-19 at half-time.

That shows their competitiveness but their challenge is to deliver an 80 minute performance this weekend.

They have dangerous backs like Ronnie Cooke and Tim Whitehead, who can change the course of a match with a moment of brilliance while stand-in skipper and lock Steven Sykes is an experienced campaigner and feisty competitor.

Coach Carlos Spencer is looking for improvements after the team made 250 tackles against the Lions last weekend.

“We have been giving up the ball far too easily and we have not been able to put the opposing defences under any pressure,” he said.

“We were also exposed in the A and B channels by the Lions last week and it's something we need to change because you can't keep making 250 tackles a match and expect nothing to give way.”

Prediction: This encounter will be one-sided as WP are in their own backyard where they have done well all season. Western Province to win by 18 points!

The teams:

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Manuel Carizza, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Justin Geduld.

Eastern Province Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Dwayne Jenner, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Shaun MacDonald, 5 Steven Sykes (c), 4 David Bulbring, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacments: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 CJ Van der Linde, 18 Thembelani Bholi, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Shane Gates, 22 Siyanda Grey.

Date: Friday, September 5
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Shaun Veldsman