Planet Rugby

Preview: Kings v Bulls

19th April 2013 07:58

Share:

Captain of the Bulls Pierre Spies leads his team out

Leading the Bulls: Pierre Spies

With Super Rugby hitting the halfway mark this weekend, the Bulls can ill-afford to drop points in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

A few months ago you would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to give the Kings a hope in hell against the former champs but after a relatively successful tour overseas, the new boys from the Eastern Cape simply cannot be regarded as pushovers.

More significant than the Kings' two victories so far, the draw against the Brumbies in Canberra is proof that no one should take the threat they pose lightly.

Nevertheless, the Bulls will start as favourites at a sold-out Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Although the three-time champions have not exactly set fields alight this season, they've scored the fewest tries in the tournament, over the years the Bulls have built a reputation for getting the job done when the chips are down - as they did last week against a much-improved Cheetahs outfit.

With a very difficult tour behind them, it's now time for Pierre Spies and co. to make a case for a place in the play-offs. If the Cheetahs can trip up the Sharks in Durban, the SA Conference lead is within reach.

The Kings are getting their first taste of the infamous travel factor in Super Rugby this year as they return from Melbourne. While it's harder to fly east, they have now had to change time zones for the second time in a month. And unlike their visitors, the schedulers have not given the Kings a bye week to recover from their travels.

Returning from tour is notoriously hard. Both the Bulls and Sharks lost their first games back in the Republic last year while in 2011 four of the five SA teams failed to win upon their return home.

But at least the Kings will be returning in high spirits, buoyed by victory over the Rebels (it took a few other South African franchises a lot longer to gain their first overseas win). They also welcome back their most influential player and skipper, a certain Luke Watson.

Despite the Kings surprisingly competitive entry into the competition, the Bulls will certainly be expected to win this weekend. For all their tenacity and courage, the Kings still lack the kind of attack required to upset the top sides.

As coach and recent father of triplets Frans Ludeke mentioned this week, the key for the Bulls will be patience. The Kings defence has proved incredibly hard to break down, but no team can tackle for 80 minutes. If the Bulls use their possession meaningfully, and diligently, the points will come.

The teams:

Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Barnardo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Marcello Sampson, 22 Siviwe Soyizwapi.

Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Bjorn Basson.

Date: Saturday, 20 April
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off:19:10 (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Castres vs Bay Of Plenty18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs Sharks19:10
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury vs NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Preview
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00