Super Rugby returns to Port Elizabeth for the first time in almost 14 years, but this time the locals will have their own team to support in the guise of the Southern Kings, who will be hosting the Western Force at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The Force, established in 2006 as one of the newer teams in this competition, got their season underway last weekend in Melbourne, where they lost 23-30 to the Rebels, now in their third year of existence.
The Sharks used Port Elizabeth twice as venue – in 1998 they thrashed the Chiefs by 52-18 and in 1999 they were too good for the Brumbies, winning 21-16.
But the Kings are a new entity and they will be looking to set their own standards in the coming months.
They have a host of players who will be making their Super Rugby debuts and realise it will not be easy, but Kings coach Matt Sexton said his team had done as much as they could in preparation for their debut.
“Whatever we could do, we’ve done as far as preparation goes,” Sexton said.
Mixed in with the newbies, are a host of players that have played a fair amount of Super Rugby, including Kings captain Luke Watson, who has played 82 matches at this level for The Sharks and the Stormers, Steven Sykes (69 for The Sharks), Andries Strauss (40 for The Sharks and Cheetahs) and Bandise Maku (33 for the Bulls and Lions).
“We have a number of experienced players who have played a lot of Super Rugby, but on the flip side there are some who have not,” said Watson.
“We all have to start somewhere and we have no doubt in the ability and commitment of those guys who will be pulling on a Super Rugby jersey for the first time.”
No one really knows how good or bad the Southern Kings are. We have no statistics as they are brand new to Super Rugby but we do have some stats on the Force in South Africa.
The Force have played 17 Super Rugby matches in South Africa and won 7 of those. They have however not won in South Africa since March 2011.
The Force have already played one match this season so they are match fit and they have Super Rugby experience.
The last three teams to enter Super Rugby all lost their opening matches so a good result for the Southern Kings would be to do better than any one of the last three debutants.
The Rebels first Super (15) Rugby match ended 43-0 to the Waratahs in Melbourne. (2011)
The Cheetahs first Super (14) Rugby match ended in an 18-30 loss to the Bulls in Bloemfontein. (2006)
The Force’s first Super (14) Rugby match ended in a 10-25 loss to the Brumbies in Perth. (2006)
The Bookies have given the Southern Kings an 11 point start for this Match – with an offer of a FREE pound;50 BET. If the Kings can better the Force’s first result they will have done well. We are going to hope the Kings can better the Force’s debut. Force to win 14 points.
This Match will be shown on TV in NZ, Aus, SA and in the UK on Sky Sports 4 HD.
Average score: – South African Teams 25 Force 21
Force’s last five results in South Africa
12 May 2012 Force v Sharks 11-53 Durban
05 May 2012 Force v Cheetahs 13-17 Bloemfontein
26 Mar 2011 Force v Stormers 16-51 Cape Town
19 Mar 2011 Force v Lions 27-15 Johannesburg
14 May 2010 Force v Sharks 22-27 Durban
Force’s record against South African teams in South Africa
Played 17, Wins 7, Losses 9 , Draws 1
Match No.9.Kings v Force
Date : Saturday 23 February
Venue : Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick Off local: 19:10
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Ref 1:Stuart Berry
Assistant Ref 2:Christie Du Preez
TMO : Johan Meuwessen
15 SP Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8. Luke Watson (c), 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. Cornell du Preez, 5. Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements : 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Johan Herbst, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes
To follow. At the time of writing the Force had not released their team.
Article source: http://www.rugbyweek.com/news/article.asp?id=37818