The Kings have to produce an 80-minute effort on defence to secure their first win of the season against the Sunwolves in PE on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
After leaking 158 points in their first three matches, most expected the Kings to suffer another thrashing at the hands of the Hurricanes last weekend.
However, the Kings had other ideas and surprised the Canes with their tenacity and physicality. The Port Elizabeth-based side in fact completely dominated the early exchanges in the second half, having trailed by just two points at the break.
Heading into the latter stages of the clash, only five points separated the sides, but the Kings’ resolve finally waned and the Canes were able to score two soft tries at the end to clinch a 42-20 bonus-point win.
While the Kings should be encouraged by their improved performance and gutsy defensive effort, the fact remains that despite starting well in each of their matches this season, they have just been unable to sustain the effort.
By contrast last weekend, the Sunwolves refused to allow the Bulls to pull away despite generally finding themselves on the back foot for most of the match in Singapore.
That fighting spirit also received due reward when they managed to fashion a superb last-minute try that enabled them to secure a losing bonus point in a 30-27 defeat.
The Sunwolves also scored three very good tries, and their ability to strike from the counter-attack should not have escaped the attention of a Kings side that will need to be switched on defensively from start to finish.
Yet the Kings would have also noted the manner in which the Bulls bullied the Sunwolves at scrum time, and this is certainly an area where the Kings have the firepower to gain the upper hand.
A strong set-piece showing, coupled with a complete defensive effort, could well provide the Kings with the necessary foundation to finally get their first points of the season.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the teams' first meeting
STATS THAT MATTER
– The Kings have conceded 157 points combined in their last three matches against teams from outside South Africa.
– This will be the Sunwolves’ first-ever match away from home in Super Rugby.
– Both of the Kings’ two wins at home in the 2013 Super Rugby season came against teams from outside South Africa (Force and Highlanders).
– The Sunwolves have conceded eight tries on the first phase of opposition possession, only the Kings (nine) have conceded more.
– Tusi Pisi kicks at an accuracy rate of 94%, the highest of any player who’s attempted at least 15 shots at goal so far this season.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Kings||Louis Fouché(38)||Edgard Marutlulle (3)||Shane Gates (161)||CJ Velleman (40)|
|Sunwolves||Tusi Pisi (40)||Akihito Yamada (4)||Akihito Yamada (297)||Shota Horie (40)|
Kings – 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Aidon Davis, 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 Ferreira, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jaco van Tonder.
Sunwolves – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Timothy Bond, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keita Inagaki.
Subs: 16 Futoshi Mori, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Tomás Leonardi, 22 Yuki Yatomi, 23 Mifiposeti Paea.
Referee: Rasta Rashivenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Waratahs vs Rebels (to come)
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images