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Rugby | Pro14

Luvuyo Pupuma © Gallo Images

Kings need to close it out

The Southern Kings have shown a pleasing improvement in recent weeks but they will need to look to close it out and notch a much needed first victory in the Guinness PRO14 when they host Edinburgh in Port Elizabeth on Friday night.

The Kings were competitive against both Ulster and the high flying Scarlets before giving it away late in both games. They came particularly close last week against the champion Scarlets, and could well have got over the line were it not for mistakes made in the last 10 minutes that cost them dearly.

Although Scarlets are the competition champions and the more highly regarded team, Edinburgh may well be more formidable opponents in the sense that they will come to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium with less disruption than the Scarlets did a week ago. That is because the Scarlets had more players missing to international commitments than Edinburgh do.

However, Edinburgh should be beatable if the King raise their game and convert their opportunities. The Kings have former Western Province man Kurt Coleman back at flyhalf for Friday’s match due to the concussion sustained against the Scarlets by Oliver Zono. In the only other change to the team that started last week, Harlon Klaasen has been rewarded for his excellent showing off the bench by being selected at inside centre alongside Berton Klaasen. Martin du Toit, who was good against the Scarlets, is sitting this game out due to a shoulder injury.

In the other game being played on South African soil this weekend, the Scarlets could be vulnerable against the Cheetahs if they haven’t managed to bolster the ranks of the side that was pushed so close by the Kings. Playing at altitude will be a new experience for the young Scarlets players and if the Cheetahs retain their good home form – they’ve only lost once at home in the competition – the Scarlets will be hard pressed to retain their slender lead at the top of their section.

There have been improvements in both South African teams, with the Cheetahs’ big step forward since Rory Duncan took over as head coach most notably coming to their defensive game. They will need to be accurate defensively against the busy playing style of the Welsh team.

Former Springbok assistant coach Johan van Graan will be wanting to continue with the winning vein he started his career at Munster with when his new team hosts Ospreys on Saturday. Munster won comfortably against Zebre in Italy last week.

Weekend Guinness PRO14 FIXTURES

Southern Kings v Edinburgh (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Friday 19.15)

Newport Gwent Dragons v Ulster (Rodney Parade, Friday 21.35)

Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues (Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 21.35)

Zebre v Connacht (Stadio Lanfranchi, Saturday 15.15)

Benetton v Leinster (Stadio Communale di Monigo, Saturday 17.30)

Munster v Ospreys (Irish Independent Park, Saturday 19.30)

Cheetahs v Scarlets (Toyota Stadium, Saturday 19.35)


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