Kings coach Robbi Kempson believes this weekend’s derby match against the Cheetahs is the ideal opportunity to show how much they have improved this season.
The Kings will start as underdogs at home against Hawies Fourie’s side in Port Elizabeth this weekend, but will draw confidence from their weekend victory over a second-string Stormers side in Knysna, as well as a good performance against the odds in their last PRO14 outing against Edinburgh.
However, for them to take the next step forward, they need to inspire confidence in their abilities and having played second fiddle to the Cheetahs over the past few seasons, they now see this as an opportunity to put up a fighting performance and get some much-needed log points in the process.
Kempson believes this is extremely important, especially in the context of the competition.
‘The other teams have shown us a bit more respect in playing full-strength sides against us. Edinburgh played a full-strength side as did Connacht. They are showing us a lot more respect in the manner in which they are putting out full-strength teams against us,’ Kempson said.
‘It shows just how this team has grown. It doesn’t help in the results, but this would be a good opportunity to show how far we have come. We still have a long way to go, but we want to put a marker in the sand this weekend.
‘The manner in which we want to play the game, and hopefully we will put that together on the weekend. We have concentrated heavily on ourselves and it is an opportunity for us to show how far we have come, in dry conditions – which we really haven’t had this season except for the first three we played.’
Kempson says the Cheetahs’ poor performance in their last game against Zebre had been noted, but possibly was more down to a planning error than a genuine loss of form.
‘We found this out ourselves, you can’t give guys a month’s holiday and then go and expect to play a high-performance team who are in a top European competition. We made that error last year and I think they made the error this year. In view of the fact they played in the Currie Cup, it was probably right for the players but wrong for the competition.’
The mouth-watering derby fixture will settle – over this weekend and the return fixture in Bloemfontein next weekend – who is the best South African PRO14 franchise.
Kempson will name his side for the clash on Friday.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images