The Kings will need a huge performance to beat a rampaging Lions side in their Super Rugby clash in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
It’s a tight race in the Africa 2 Conference with the Lions and Jaguares tied on 14 points each at the top of the table so to stay neck-and-neck the visitors will need a win in this fixture. A win for the Kings meanwhile is imperative considering they’re eight points off the Sharks, and are currently in fourth place with just five points.
The Lions have the historical advantage going into the game having won the only previous two encounters between these teams, both by margins of 35-plus points.
This season the Lions and the Kings have proven to be late starters with the Pride of Jozi scoring just one first-half try in their last three games away from home, while the Kings have scored nine tries across their last four games at home, eight of which were scored in the second-half of games.
The Kings have been strong contenders in the line-out this season as they have stolen an average of 2.5 throws per game, the equal most of any team alongside the Cheetahs.
Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids is expecting a challenging encounter against the Lions this week.
“We need to step up because we are playing one of the best sides in the competition this weekend. The Lions are a very talented side, no matter who they field, and they play the game at a massively high tempo,” Davids said.
“We need to be right up there, we need to be switched on from the start. This is a game that we need to take to them. We will give it everything.”
Following the confidence-boosting performance last weekend, Davids reiterated his belief in the team.
“There is a lot of self-belief in the team. We did believe from the start that we can compete. We want to be competitive, and we will strive to continuously improve,” he said.
The last time these teams met: The Lions beat the Kings 57-21 in Johannesburg after Rohan Janse van Rensburg scored two of the Lions’ seven tries. The home side out ran the Kings for most of the game as they avoided contact and sent the ball out wide. The other five tries came through Andries Coetzee, Faf De Klerk, Malcolm Marx, Sylvian Mahuza and Courtnall Skosan.
Team news: The Kings have made three changes to their side as Schalk van der Merwe comes in at loosehead prop, Malcolm Jaer will play at full-back while Kurt Haupt gets a start at hooker. Usual captain Schalk Ferreira is injured and so star fly-half Lionel Cronje will take over the skipper role.
The Lions have made one change to the side that clobbered the Reds last week with Harold Vorster coming in at outside centre for Lionel Mapoe who is out with injury.
Form: The Kings started off the season well despite losing 39-26 to the Jaguares as they showed real fight throughout the clash, translating into a much better game the week after, beating the Sunwolves away in Singapore 37-23. Things were looking good for the Kings before a 41-10 thrashing at the hands of the Stormers in Port Elizabeth. They showed their potential again when they ran the Sharks very close last weekend and were ahead for most of the clash before a late Sharks try which led to a 19-17 win for the hosts.
The Lions have won three out of their four fixtures in the competition so far. They claimed a narrow 28-25 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein before thumping the Waratahs 55-36 in Johannesburg in Round 2. Their first loss came in Buenos Aires after suffering a 36-24 defeat to the Jaguares. They made up for their defeat though after crushing the Reds 44-14 last week.
2016: Lions won 57-21 in Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 45-10 in Port Elizabeth
Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Lionel Cronje (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Kurt Haupt, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacments: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Sti Sitole, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
Date: Saturday, March 25
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 15:15 local (13:05 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)