Having dominated the league phase, the EP Kings will be looking to put the finishing touches to a superb season when they clash with the Blue Bulls in the Absa Provincial Championship U19 rugby final at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday (October 24), kicking off at 09.30.
What will have coach Mzwandile Stick’s charges aware of the challenge that faces them is that the Blue Bulls were the only team to lower their colours during the league phase. That will have them completely switched on for this encounter and Stick will ensure there is no complacency in the team, despite their outstanding form this season.
Stick has been able to name an unchanged starting line-up for the final, with the only change in the squad being the return to the bench of scrumhalf Sibusiso Ngcokovane in place of Davron Cameron.
This sort of situation has allowed Stick to maintain a strong sense of continuity during the season and enabled the players to work together as a team.
They will need to maintain that work ethic against a Blue Bulls side who will be fully fired up to take the title, particularly in Gauteng. Even though it is not their home ground, they will have the advantage of playing at altitude, which emphasises the challenge facing the Kings.
Skipper Jeremy Ward’s side, however, have produced an impressive effort of playing to their strengths this season and trying to make sure they implement their gameplan, whoever their opposition. They will be aiming to follow this pattern in Johannesburg.
Stick said: “Our objective has always been is to focus on our strengths and to make sure we implement our game plan on the day.
“We have aimed to play together as a team this season and this is a good squad with several team leaders. We don’t do anything complicated and the players have been totally committed to the cause. We make use of what we have got and we do not focus on our weaknesses.”
The U19 match will be televised live on SuperSport 2, as will the U21 final between Western Province and the Cheetahs, starting at 11.15am
These junior matches will be the curtain-raisers for the senior Currie Cup final between the Lions and Western Province (1.45pm on SuperSport 1).
EP U19: Keanu Vers, Mabhutana Peter, Yamkela Nyalambisa, Jeremy Ward (captain), Athi Mayinje, Michael Brink, James Hall, Junior Pokomela, Hayden Tharratt, SF Nieuwoudt, Lusanda Badiyana, Robert Lyons, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Thango Balekile, Greg Jackson. Replacements: Masikane Mazwi, Xandre Vos, Matthew Howes, Wihan Coetzer, Xholisa Matshoba, Sibusiso Ngcokovane, Garrick Mattheus, Dominik Uytenbogaardt.
Blues Bulls U19: Kurt Webster, Coneree Poole, JT Jackson, Franco Naude, Divan Rossouw, Tinus de Beer (c), Stephan Enslin, Denzel Hill, JD Fourie, Arnold Gerber, Eli Snyman, Sam Mitchell, Jaco Holtzhausen, Alandre van Rooyen, Gavin van den Berg. Replacements: Junqgo Hennings, Madot Mabokela, Rohan Goosen, Hendre Stassen, Luigy van Jaarsveld, Dale Hendricks, Ruan de Beer, Tshepiso Mahasha.
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