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Preview: Kings v Highlanders

10th May 2013 08:25

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Ben Smith Highlanders SR 2013

One to watch: Ben Smith

The tournament's basement dwellers, the Kings and the Highlanders, will do battle in the final match of the weekend, in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The Kings will be determined to prove a point after they delivered a below par performance in last weekend's 72-10 defeat to the Waratahs.

This match could be a momentous one for Kings fly-half Demetri Catrakilis, who needs seven points to advance his season total to 100. If he achieves this, he will become the 10th player to reach a century of points in 2013.

Regular skipper Luke Watson will have plenty to prove in his return to the run-on side after playing off the bench in the Kings' previous two matches.

Watson returned to action in the Kings 34-0 loss to the Bulls in Round 10 and delivered a poor performance.

But Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said he is back to his best after his spell amongst the replacements and expects him to make an impact against the Highlanders.

"We looked at ways to freshen things up generally," explained Solomons.

"With that in mind there have been some changes to the squad. Luke (Watson) comes through and I thought that was one of the big positives of the weekend.

"He played well and is back to full form and takes his position as captain."

In their loss to the Waratahs - and several other games this season - the Kings have not shown much creativity on attack and if they want to be successful in this match they will have to improve considerably in that aspect of their game.

After an eight-game winless streak, the Highlanders finally broke their duck for the season with a deserved 25-22 win over the Sharks in Dunedin last weekend.

That result was a tremendous boost to coach Jamie Joseph and his charges who will be high on confidence.

They showed great character in clinching that win and know that their season can only get better from their current position.

Throughout their poor run the men from Dunedin have stuck to their attacking game-plan.

Keep an eye on full-back Ben Smith, who despite his side's poor form has delivered top-class performances on a regular basis this season.

The All Black has the ability to tear any defence to shreds and if the Kings give him too much space he will exploit it.

Prediction: The Kings are like a wounded animal after that humiliating defeat to the Waratahs and should deliver a much improved showing this weekend. However, the Highlanders are brimming with confidence after claiming their first win and will have to much class for their hosts. Highlanders to win by eight points!

Make your predictions!

Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Siyanda Grey, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Shane Gates, 22 SP Marais.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Mose Tuiali'i, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Jason Emery.

Date: Saturday, May 11
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17:05 (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende and Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

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PosTeamPPts
1Crusaders1651
2Chiefs1644
3Highlanders1642
4Hurricanes1641
5Blues1637