The Cheetahs travel down to PE to face off against the spirited Kings, who won’t allow the Cheetahs an easy day in the office.
Their third victory almost a fortnight ago over the Highlanders ensured the Southern Kings have the most successful Vodacom Super Rugby debut season (excluding the first season when there were 12 debutants) since the inception of the professional competition in 1996.
The Kings have thus far won three matches and are on 24 log points – the same amount of victories the Rebels had in 2011, but already with four more log points.
In 1998, when South Africa went over to the franchise system, the Cats won two and lost nine matches for 15 log points.
And the Force, who joined the Vodacom Super Rugby fray in 2006, won one, drew two and lost 10 matches for a total of 12 points.
In 1996, by the way, the bottom-finishing Crusaders won only two matches, drew one and lost eight to finish on 12 points. They went on to win the competition seven times.
The Toyota Cheetahs will be aiming for only their seventh away win in their 21st local derby. Earlier this season they beat The Sharks in Durban and if they can win in Port Elizabeth, it will be the first time since 2006 that they have won away from Bloemfontein twice in one season against a fellow South African franchise.
“We see this as a real opportunity, bearing in mind that the Cheetahs are a side that are lying second in the South African conference at the moment and challenging very strongly for a playoff position,” said the Kings’ Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons.
“I think the important thing is that when you play against a team like the Cheetahs you have to cut your error rate. They will capitalise on the mistakes that you make, so they are certainly a side you have to be careful about and cut your errors.
Solomons added it was also important to remain “defensively sharp” against the Toyota Cheetahs, who can score tries from anywhere on the field.
“They’re a side that likes to play a tempo game and move the ball about, so I think you have to have your wits about you defensively when you play against them,” said Solomons.
The teams are:
Southern Kings: SP Marais, Siyanda Grey, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss, Marcello Sampson, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Cornell du Preez, Luke Watson (captain), Wimpie van der Walt, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Grant Kemp, Rynier Bernardo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Nicolas Vergallo, Shane Gates, George Whitehead.
Toyota Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Willie le Roux, Elgar Watts, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagné, Heinrich Brüssow, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Ligtoring Landman, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Riaan Smit, Raymond Rhule.
Southern Kings v Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Saturday, 25 May
SA Time: 15h00
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)