Port Elizabeth – Fresh off a bye and bouyant after their victory over the Highlanders, the Southern Kings are fired up in their bid to move up the Super Rugby log, but they know the Cheetahs will be equally motivated when they meet in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Kings’ chief objective in their debut season is to avoid last place in the South African conference and a potential promotion/relegation encounter against the Lions, while the Cheetahs’ outstanding run this year has put them in line for a spot in the competition playoffs.
The high-flying Cheetahs already have a win over the Kings this season, albeit hard-earned, and they will be looking to press on following their excellent victory against the Reds last week.
The Kings rate the Cheetahs backline as one of the most dangerous in the competition and will be looking to tighten up on defence and prevent the sort of situation the visitors are so quick at exploiting.
“Having played them before, the lessons we learnt is that you have to cut your error-rate,” said Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons.
“They are a team who can turn things around very quickly and you have to be defensively sharp against them and have your wits about you.”
His words were echoed by vice-captain and centre Andries Strauss, who will be central to the Kings’ bid to contain the visiting backs.
“They can do a lot of damage and like to move the ball around and play a lot like the Aussie teams,” Strauss said.
“But our win over the Highlanders was just reward for the hard work we have put in and we can take a lot of positives from that game.
“There were also mistakes, which we have looked at, and we know we have to rectify those.”
Solomons said the break had been good for the team after 10 games on the trot, but it also had its downside.
“The big pro was that we definitely needed a break and it has done wonders for the players,” he said.
“But you can lose a bit of rhythm, so what we did was to get back last Friday so that we could kick on seriously from Monday morning.”
While much has been spoken of the Cheetahs backline and a dangerous opportunist like Willie le Roux, Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said their forwards had worked hard to be effective as well.
“We are looking to do well and to try to dominate the scrums and the lineouts to give a platform for our backs,” Strauss said. – Sapa