SOUTHERN Kings caretaker head coach Robbi Kempson is expecting a “high tempo” clash when his team face the Lions in a Super Rugby friendly at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5pm).
The teams, who locked horns in two tightly contested Super Rugby promotion matches at the end of last season, will be keen to prove a point in this early-season showdown.
“The Lions are a very different test to what the Cheetahs presented last week, and the tempo of the game will be much higher because they tend to do things in explosive spurts,” Kempson said.
“Also, the way the Lions scrum will be different to the Cheetahs. The Lions are a different kettle of fish and they are clearly very ambitious about the Super Rugby season ahead of them.
“The Lions had a good hit out against the Pukke and their game plan is likely to play at a much higher tempo than the Cheetahs did against us last week.
“That is something we will have to adapt our play to. From our side, you will not see much difference from the way we attack or defend. I think our defence was pretty decent against the Cheetahs,” he said.
Though the Kings looked promising on attack when they lost 36-21 to the Cheetahs last week, Kempson has admitted they were planning to up their game among the forwards.
“We have chatted about a few things and we were not happy about the forward performance and we make no bones about that,” Kempson said.
The Kings coaching staff drilled their forwards in sweltering heat at the scrum machine this week, in a bid to ensure that they are more competitive at scrum time after coming under pressure against the Cheetahs.
Saturday’s game against the Lions is the second of three Super Rugby friendlies for the Kings, who round off their preseason activity with a match against the Stormers at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium next Friday.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann is expected to make sweeping changes to his team that beat a Leopards-Pukke outfit at the weekend.
The coach expects the intensity to lift in his team’s remaining warm-up matches against the Kings and the Sharks.
“I should have a much better idea after this weekend where we are at. The Kings have a decent side and I have to see how some of the new players react under pressure,” Ackermann said.
The Eastern Province Kings Vodacom Cup side will play a friendly against Despatch as a curtain-raiser to the Kings versus Lions match on Saturday. This game will kick off at 2.30pm.