Planet Rugby

Preview: Sharks v Kings

12th July 2013 07:46

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Meyer Bosman

Key figure: Meyer Bosman

Saturday's clash between the Sharks and the Kings is a tale of two teams playing for two very different reasons.

The Kings have made their intentions quite clear - they're not fazed if they lose, their focus is solely on the upcoming promotion/relegation matches against the Lions. Director of rugby Alan Solomons and head coach Matt Sexton have made 12 changes with this in mind and as a result many of the 'unknowns' one has grown to accustomed to this season are replaced by a new batch of unheralded players.

Don't be mistaken, the Kings will not go down easily, the men from the Eastern Cape will be hoping to avoid the wooden spoon in their debut season and the fringe players who have been elevated to the starting XV will want to prove a point.

However, this is unlikely to be enough against a Sharks side who have a point or two to prove themselves.

The Sharks bounced back from a poor run with a win against the Blues two weeks ago and then put in one of their better performances against the Bulls last time out only for wayward place kicking to see them miss out on the victory.

There was still plenty to take out of the encounter for the Sharks coaching staff and the men from Durban will be looking to finish strongly, with seventh spot on the standings still achievable if other results go their way.

"We're obviously disappointed in the fact that we didn't make the play-offs, we had big aspirations for the season which unfortunately didn't work out for us," Sharks scrum-half Charl McLeod told the team's official website.

"So, for our last game, we're just going to go out there and give it our all - as we have been doing all season - and hope to finish on a high. In our last game we want to go out there and enjoy it."

The Sharks certainly won't be heading into the game taking anything for granted, despite the obvious lack of experience in the opposition ranks.

"If you look at the Kings, they've played pretty well this season and they gave the Stormers a bit of a fright last Saturday," said coach Hugh Reece-Edwards.

"When we played them last, we thought it might have been a bit easier and we were perhaps a bit too conservative and made too many mistakes. They've proven that they are a tough side to beat, they don't give up and have the best tackle percentage in the competition.

"With that in mind, we can really expect a hard game. In two weeks' time they also have a promotion-relegation match, but we can't worry about whether or not that might be in the back of their minds."

"We've got to think about one thing and that's this game, and then from there it's a new campaign."

The Sharks welcome back JP Pietersen and Meyer Bosman for the clash, with Pietersen in particular a sight for sore eyes as the Springboks' absence has most certainly be felt. Bosman will have a huge role to play in the encounter as he's likely to take over the goal-kicking in the absence of the injured Pat Lambie and the suspended Butch James, and will be expected to pull the strings from 12, with Riaan Viljoen - a man not particularly accustomed to the number 10 jersey - inside him.

One thing that one can be sure of heading into Saturday's match is that neither side will be holding anything back which should lead to some entertaining - if not clinical - rugby.

Prediction: The Sharks will take this one easily once some initial resistance from the Kings is subdued. Sharks by 15.

The Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Meyer Bosman , 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Edwin Hewitt, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis , 1 Tendai Mtawarira,
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Fred Zeilinga.

Kings: 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Mpho Mbiyozo, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Charl du Plessis.
Replacements: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Bandise Maku, 18 Darron Nell, 19 Thabo Mamojelle, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Michael Killian.

Put your money where your mouth is and make your predictions here!

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