EP Kings president Cheeky Watson, director of rugby Alan Solomons and skipper Wayne Stevens all responded to the 53-14 first leg defeat with fighting talk ahead of Friday’s return match in Port Elizabeth.
While the “Battle of Bloem” left the Kings battered and bruised, the side’s brains trust are now frantically plotting a fighting rearguard action for Friday’s “Battle of the Bay”.
There is no question of the men in red and black hoops raising the white flag, even though they will be facing a massive challenge against the fired-up Free Staters.
Kings chief executive Anele Pamba said yesterday his men were now plotting what he hoped would turn out to be rugby’s “fightback of the century” against the Cheetahs.
“We have got nothing to lose in the second leg so the players must go out there and enjoy themselves in front of what will be an expectant home crowd,” Watson said.
“Our players must not be restricted at all in the way they play in Port Elizabeth. They showed glimpses of what they could do in the first leg and as far as I am concerned the door has not been closed on our promotion hopes.”
Watson said that losing two captains in the lead-up to the promotion clashes had impacted on the Kings.
“It should be remembered that Luke Watson was ruled out with a fractured foot and then his stand-in Darron Nell was sidelined by a calf muscle injury so the leadership in the team was affected,” said Watson.
“We still have a mathematical chance of getting to the Currie Cup Premier Division and we will put in everything this week,” stand-in captain Stevens said.
With the log point system being used to separate the two sides in the double-header play-offs, the Cheetahs earned five points and the Kings none in Bloemfontein.
This means the Kings must win with a four-try bonus point and deny the Cheetahs one in the return fixture in Port Elizabeth before they can think of the 39-point deficit they need to overhaul in order to gain promotion.