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Preview: Kings v Sharks

07th March 2013 21:39

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Sharks: Hunting hat-trick of wins

The Sharks will be out to bring the Kings back down to earth with a loud thud when the two South African outfits clash for the first time in a Super Rugby match.

The tournament newbies got their debut campaign off to the perfect start after seeing off the Western Force two weeks ago. They also made history in the process, as no new team in the competition has ever won in their first match.

Now the coastal teams square off at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, with the hosts aiming to build on their impressive induction to Super Rugby.

A win coupled with a bye means the seventh-placed Kings enter this match on level points (8) with the Sharks, with the visitors ahead on the standings due to points differential.

The men from Durban have also impressed following wins over the Cheetahs and Stormers to settle in second place in the SA conference and fifth overall as they hunt for a third straight win.

However, the Sharks won't be expecting an easy ride this weekend and will be wary of the Kings who no doubt will be roared on once again by a fiercely partisan crowd.

Two weeks ago, the unfancied Kings were under enormous pressure to prove that they belonged in the competition. Their surprise opening win certainly silenced their critics, won them a few fans along the way and deserved every bit of applause for what was achieved in Port Elizabeth.

But this week their job is to prove that the 22-10 victory over the Force was no fluke.

To do this, the Kings will need to lift their intensity if they wish to trouble the in-form visitors still missing the likes of Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts and Bismarck du Plessis to injury.

The home side once again enter this match as underdogs but showed they offer more than just a loud bark for 80 minutes - something Sharks coach John Plumtree is well aware of.

"If your feet come off the ground and your head is in the clouds then this competition just bites you," he said.

"We've seen that with us and other teams in the past, so we've just got to regroup and prepare for the next contest.

"It's up to the players to understand that they've let themselves down in the past and we've got to respect everyone we come up against, because when you don't, that's when you get hit.

"You've got to remain focussed, forget about the past and focus on the future."

Prediction: If the Kings thought they had a tough work-out in their win over the Force, they're about to jump out of the pot and into the fire. It's still early days, but one has the feeling we're about to get a better measure of the Kings' ability when they host the 2012 runners-up. We foresee a much more open game with the dangerous Sharks backline given plenty of space to stretch their legs... Sharks by 20.

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 Luke Watson, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Francois Steyn (c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira,
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Date: Saturday, March 9
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)

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