The Sharks will be looking to make it three wins in a row when they visit the Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The Kings have never beaten the Sharks. However, they were unlucky not to do so in the previous fixture not too long ago. They
are a much-improved outfit from previous seasons.
Testament to this is the fact they have recorded a club best two-match winning streak and are desperate to make it three out of three against the Sharks on Saturday. They were excellent in their last games, beating the Waratahs and then smashing the Rebels in a wonderful advertisement for running rugby.
They possess the turnover King in flank Chris Cloete and it is from turnovers on the counter-attack that they like to score tries. Lionel Cronje is assured at fly-half bringing purpose and direction to a dangerous backline.
The Sharks will be without their own fly-half Curwin Bosch who has joined up with the Baby Boks. However, Patrick Lambie brings a wealth of experience to the pivot position as well as a tried and trusted right boot.
The Sharks will themselves be desperate to keep up the good momentum they have going after bouncing back from that dour 9-9 draw against the Rebels with a good win over the Jaguares away followed by a win over the Kings in which they were disappointed not to get a bonus point.
The Kings have won their last two matches, against the Waratahs and Rebels, and will hope to make it three against the Sharks in Port Elizebeth.
It is all about bragging rights in this traditional derby and the Sharks will be keen to avoid the taunts of the underdogs from the Eastern Cape. The pressure is on the Sharks here and the Kings have nothing to lose. Expect the Kings to throw everything they have at the Sharks on attack. But also expect the Sharks to be stubborn on defence.
While the Kings look to run the ball more often than not, the Sharks look to the sticks more than any other side in the competition, kicking a league-high 3.8 penalty goals on average per game this season.
The Sharks know it is imperative they win this game to consolidate their position at number 2 on the Africa conference 1 standings and keep themselves on a course for a place in the play-offs. Especially because the Jaguares are likely to win against the Force and keep up the pressure on Robert Du Preez’s men.
The last time the teams met: The Kings and Sharks have already faced off this season with the men from Durban narrowly winning 19-17 in Round 4. A last-gasp Curwin Bosch penalty spared the blushes of the home side as they were trailing for the majority of the game. The Kings led through tries from Ruan Lerm and Makazole Mapimpi only to be cancelled out by Sharks tries from Lourens Adriaanse and Jacobus Van Wyk.
Players to watch: For the Kings, Makazole Mapimpi is the man to watch. Mapimpi gains an average of 10.8 metres per carry this season, the most of any player in the competition to have made more than 10 carries this season.
Sharks flank Jean-Luc Du Preez is a force to reckoned with. He is a massive presence on defence with his tireless tackling. He has made 99 tackles, making him the second highest tackler in the competition this season. He is not bad on attack either with those strong carries. He has beaten 29 defenders, making him the eighth highest for defenders beaten in the competition this season.
Team news: Kings head coach Deon Davids has made one change to his side that will face the Sharks, with Schalk van der Merwe starting at prop. Van der Merwe replaces the injured Justin Forwood at loosehead as the Kings look to continue their recent run of performances in the competition.
Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has largely retained the same team that beat the Rebels last weekend with just three rotational changes and one enforced. With Curwin Bosch now away on national duty with the SA Under 20 side, Patrick Lambie takes over as the starting flyhalf as well as taking over the captaincy in one of two changes to the backline. The other sees Lwazi Mvovo – who was rested last weekend – replacing Sbu Nkosi who shifts to the bench following a pleasing debut last Saturday. In straight rotation in the front row, Beast Mtawarira returns for Thomas du Toit while Franco Marais and Chiliboy Ralepelle swap jerseys.
Form: The Kings lost their opening encounter to the Jaguares before responding with a win over the Sunwolves. They then suffered five consecutive defeats against the Stormers, Sharks, Lions, Force and Reds. They bounced back with wins over the Waratahs and Rebels.
The Sharks lost to the Reds in their opening fixture before recording wins over the Brumbies, Waratahs, Kings and Cheetahs. They then lost to the Lions before beating the Jaguares. They then drew with the Rebels before beating the Jaguares again and the Force.
2017: Sharks won 19-17 in Durban
2016: Sharks won 53-0 in Durban
2016: Sharks won 43-8 in Port Elizabeth
2013: Sharks won 58-13 in Durban
2013: Sharks won 21-12 in Port Elizabeth
Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt/Tango Balekile, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Stefaan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet
Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie (c), 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Garth April, 23 Sbu Nkosi
Date: Saturday, May 13
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Christie du Preez