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Preview: Kings v Chiefs

14th March 2013 11:37

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Chiefs v Kings preview 2013

Newcomers v Champs: The Chiefs visit the Kings

The Kings have impressed with their defensive commitment in their first two games but they'll face their sternest test yet against the best attacking side in the competition as the defending champions visit Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Indeed, the Kings ability and determination to keep the Sharks at bay was remarkable but it would be unrealistic to expect any team to continue tackling like that for weeks on end.

They've already made a whopping 302 hits in just two games. You can be sure that effort is taking it's toll and the Chiefs are ideally armed to cash in.

Despite last week's narrow loss in Cape Town - their first of the season - the Chiefs still lead the New Zealand Conference and are third overall thanks to their brilliant back play, which has them leading the Super Rugby try-scoring stats with 14 touchdowns.

Even without Sonny Bill Williams and Sona Taumalolo, the team from Waikato are tearing defences apart. It's been almost FOUR YEARS since the Stormers conceded four tries at Newlands but the Chiefs came within inches of snaching a full house of points in the Mother City.

At the Newlands post-match press conference coach Dave Rennie was looking decidedly grumpy and it took a good deal of effort to convince him that picking up two points against the tournament's best defensive side was reason to be happy.

If the Stormers can't keep the champs out, it's difficult to see the Kings doing the same. But what options do Saturday's hosts have? If they open up and try attack more, they're likely to get punished.

But the Kings will surely look to keep ball in hand more this weekend, if only to keep the Chiefs' attacking opportunities to a minimum. They've only scored two tries thus far in 2013, both by exciting wing prospect Sergeal Petersen in their opening match against the Force three weeks ago.

"The Chiefs have good depth right across the board ... so we will have a bit of a job on our hands and look forward to the challenge," said Kings head coach Matt Sexton.

"Part of being defensive (last week) was that we didn't hold onto the ball properly. We made some silly errors and turned over ball when we shouldn't have. I think if we held onto the ball for a number of phases it might have been a different story.

"So we've been working on that at training. The players have seen the pictures and the implications of letting go of the ball to easily. The Chiefs have threats right across the board. They're pretty clinical when you turn over the ball or on a miscued kick or things like that.

"We want to be nice and tidy with what we do and I think that if we do that we'll present a good challenge to them."

Darron Nell, who will once again captain the Kings in the absence of the injured Luke Watson, said he was looking forward to Friday's match against the defending champions.

"Last week we had the Sharks and this week we have the Chiefs, the two finalists from last year," said Nell.

"I think we just want to concentrate on our processes and make sure that they work well and I think the results will look after themselves. Without a doubt it's going to be a tough game but we just want to look at ourselves and make sure we can do what we can do properly."

What the Kings can do properly is take the game to the Chiefs physically, as the Stormers did last week.

"We went into the Stormers game knowing what to expect - that physical barrage - but I think the intensity of it surprised a lot of guys," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie told Fairfax NZ.

"They knew what was coming but what they experienced at Newlands was a bit of a shock and we were clearly a wee bit rattled before halftime.

"But that's the way it is, but the thing I really love about this team is that we don't concede. We never ever throw the towel in and that was apparent even when we were playing without the ball, had two guys in the sin bin and players out of position - we didn't concede anything."

"There will be no complacency in our camp. The performance against the Stormers will ensure we're just focusing on ourselves.

"We had a look at (the Kings) and they've got a lot of will - a bit like the coach [former Canterbury hooker] Matt Sexton who never gave an inch.

"Last weekend they only missed one tackle out of 107, which is phenomenal, and shows a wee bit about what they're playing for.

"They've been waiting a long time to get into this competition and they're not letting it go. They're tough and not too different to the Stormers."

Super head-to-head: Kings blindside flank Wimpie van der Walt was amazing last week, making an impressive 19 hits! The Kings back row have a big task on their hands against an experienced Kiwi trio including All Black blindside Liam Messam, who will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance, the first Chiefs player to do so.

Prediction: The Kings have done a lot to silence their critics but we don't reckon they have to firepower to upset the champs. The Chiefs by fifteen points.

The teams:

Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Darron Nell (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Daniel Adongo, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.

Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Ross Filipo, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Patrick Osborne.

Date: Friday, March 15
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)

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