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Thu 11 Jan 2018 | 07:46

PREVIEW: Cheetahs to 'push hard' against winless Kings

Rory Duncan ahead of Cheetahs v Kings double-header
Thu 11 Jan 2018 | 07:46

PREVIEW: Cheetahs to 'push hard' against winless Kings

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It is the first of their back-to-back derby games in the Pro14.

After their loss in Italy to Benetton last weekend, the Cheetahs will be eager to get back to winning ways away from Bloemfontein – as they seek to keep the pressure on Munster in Conference A in their bid to reach the Pro14 play-offs in their first campaign.

Cardiff Blues and Connacht are also chasing the Cheetahs for a place in the knock-out stages.

Along with Munster, all three teams still need to travel to South Africa to face Rory Duncan's side.

The Southern Kings are still chasing their first win in the Pro14 after returning from their trip to a chilly Myreside in Edinburgh last weekend – with nothing to show for their efforts.

Deon Davids' team have won four bonus points to date and came close to breaking their duck in narrow losses to Ulster and Scarlets.

The Southern Kings have shown flashes of excitement throughout the season so far and the occasion of their first-ever South African

Duncan said it would have been 'nice' to have picked up the points (victory) in Treviso last week, but the loss hasn't changed their ambitions of reaching the Pro14 play-offs

"We are determined, in the next two games against the Kings, to push really hard," Duncan told rugby365.

"These derby games are always tough, especially the first one in Port Elizabeth," he said, adding: "The Kings are waiting for us.

"They would have done a fair amount of homework on us and we have done our homework in them.

"It should be an exciting game."

Duncan said the key for the Cheetahs in the next two weeks is to get their momentum back, after last week's defeat.

"We need to get back to the standard we had just before the break [in December]. Having a three-and-a-half-week break does break your rhythm.

"We showed glimpses of it [form] in the Treviso game."

The Cheetahs, after the two encounters with the Kings, have a short break before they head off on another European tour – where they will play the Cardiff Blues (February 10), Glasgow Warriors (February 16) and Ospreys (February 24).

He added that they will focus on doing a lot of 15-on-15 training and get as many "balls through the hands" as possible.

"We need to get the guys' confidence levels back and get back to the level we were before the break."

Kings coach Deon Davids made a number of changes to the team that produced a massively underwhelming performance in Scotland last week.

The regular locks, Bobby De Wee and Stephan Greeff, return to the starting XV – after being afforded an extra week of rest and recovery by the coach.

In the backline there's a changed back three – with wings Michael Makase and Anthony Volmink coming back, while Yaw Penxe moves from wing to fullback. Makase makes a welcome return from injury, whilst Volmink was unavailable for selection last weekend due to personal reasons.

There are changes at halfback also – where Oliver Zono replaces the injured Kurt Coleman at flyhalf and Rowan Gouws comes in for Rudi van Rooyen at scrumhalf.

The team will again be captained by Schalk Ferreira.

Despite coming close on a few occasions, the Kings are still searching for their first win after 11 matches.

Davids feels his charges aren't too far off a maiden victory.

"Firstly I think we're due a little luck and, secondly, players naturally seem to lift their game a notch or two when it's a local derby," the coach said.

"My main message to the team this week has been to not let the emotion of the occasion get to them and to show patience when on attack.

"We must also endeavour to play in the right areas of the park and keep our mistakes to a minimum," he added.

This Saturday's game will be the first all-South African derby in the history of the Pro14.

The two sides have never met before in the Pro14, but in Super Rugby, the Cheetahs have won all four previous fixtures between the two.

The Cheetahs' two previous victories at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium were 34-22 in May 2013 and 21-20 in July.

Teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Niel Marais, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Johannes Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 23 Adriaan Coertzen.

Southern Kings: 15 Yaw Penxe, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Martin du Toit, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Oliver Zono, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Eital Bredenkamp, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Harlon Klaasen.

Date: Saturday, January 13
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

PV: 15
Preview: Cheetahs To 'push Hard' Against Winless Kings | Rugby365