Damage control for Kings

The Hurricanes can be expected to pile on the punishment when they meet the Kings in Wellington on Friday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

After all the drama the Kings endured in the buildup to this season’s Super Rugby competition, there was a very real fear that the team from Port Elizabeth would turn into a walking bonus point.

Three games into their campaign and they have displayed some encouraging fighting spirit and character, but the fact remains that the team continues to leak points like a faulty faucet.

They’ve already conceded 158 points and 21 tries, with the Sharks, Chiefs and Crusaders having all put them to the sword. Worryingly, their offensive stats make for no better reading. The Kings remain in the bottom-three ranked teams when it comes to carries, clean breaks, defenders beaten and metres run.

It’s going to be a long, long season for a side that isn’t lacking in guts and gumption, but that simply lacks the personnel, experience and all-round ability to compete for the full 80 minutes.

As has been the case in all their matches this season, the Kings made a decent start against the Crusaders last weekend, and led 10-0 early on, but ultimately it was just a matter of time before their defence was worn down.

The Crusaders applied plenty of pressure at the set pieces and breakdown, and eventually capitalised on the Kings’ inaccurate defence to run in eight tries.

It’s not going to get any easier for the Kings as they now come up against last year’s runners-up, the Hurricanes. While the Canes do not look like quite the same formidable force this year, they have shown steady improvement and recorded good wins over the Blues and Force recently.

After this weekend’s clash, the Kings can look forward to a string of matches at home, but their first priority will be to limit the damage against a dangerous Hurricanes team that rediscovered their try-scoring form last weekend.

Overall: Hurricanes 1, Kings 0
In Wellington: Hurricanes 1, Kings 0

– The only previous encounter between these teams was in round seven in 2013, when the Hurricanes hosted the Kings and defeated them 46-30.
– The Hurricanes have won their last six games against South African opposition, their longest such streak in Super Rugby history.
– Not since the Stormers in round 11 in 2013 has a South African side travelled to New Zealand to play the Hurricanes and come away with a victory.
– TJ Perenara scored a try and contributed two try-assists in his last encounter with the Kings, though he’s scored only once in his last seven matches against South African opponents.
– Chris Cloete has won seven turnovers so far this season, the equal third most of any player in the competition and more than any New Zealand-based player.
Source: Opta
Team Top point-scorer Top try-scorer Most metres gained Most tackles

Beauden Barrett (35)

TJ Perenara (4) James Marshall (194) Ardie Savea (47)
Kings Louis Fouché (23) Edgar Marutlulle (3) Shane Gates (126) Thembelani Bholi (27)

Hurricanes – 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Chris Eves.
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Ben May, 19 Geoff Cridge, 20 Callum Gibbins,  21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Matt Proctor.

Kings – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhoudt, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 JP du Plessis.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

SA Rugby magazine's SuperBru picks

The Money Man's betting tips

Sharks vs Crusaders

Jaguares vs Stormers

Sunwolves vs Bulls

Cheetahs vs Brumbies

Chiefs vs Force

Rebels vs Highlanders

Reds vs Waratahs

Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

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