Kings need to dig deep to whip ’Canes

AFTER such a promising start to life in Super Rugby the Southern Kings are coming to terms with the harsh realities in the top flight.

They go into tomorrow’s clash against the Hurricanes led by centre Adriaan Strauss – their fifth captain in as many matches. Strauss leads the injury-plagued Kings in traditionally one of the hardest places to win .

It’s a near impossible task, compounded by injuries to key players and set against the backdrop of increasingly fed up foreign players who can’t play .

This week French hooker Virgil Lacombe said that he was ready to leave the Port Elizabeth franchise after being withdrawn from the squad because the Kings had exceeded their foreign player quota. Although they have shown resilience , they lack the depth to realistically expect to upset the Hurricanes.

So, from a Kings perspective, tomorrow’s match will be about keeping the score respectable .

Teenage wing Sergeal Pietersen, who has been one of the finds of the seasons in all conferences, will face the toughest challenge of his life when he opposes All Black Julian Savea. The Kiwi wing is one of the most lethal finishers in the game thanks to explosive power and pace.

Pietersen has more speed but his ability to defend against Savea will be tested .

In other action involving South African teams the Stormers meet the Crusaders at Newlands tomorrow in the pick of the weekend’s matches.

The New Zealanders, like the Stormers, have overcome an indifferent start to the season and have won their last two matches. The Crusaders also have a good recent record in Cape Town having won a pool match and a semifinal in 2011.

The Stormers go into the match on a high after beating the Chiefs and Brumbies in their past two outings and with a pack laying a great foundation they have scored seven tries in those fixtures . They are finally striking a good balance between attack and defence. The Crusaders go into the match without Kieran Read, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, who are either injured or being rested. Without them Stormers are favourites.

The Bulls have the unenviable task of trying to end their tour on a high against the table- topping Brumbies in Canberra. Although the Australians have made the long return trip from South Africa, they’re a formidable unit at home and in six previous meetings against the Bulls in Canberra have only lost once. In 113 home matches, the Brumbies have won 86 (76% win ratio) . So, it won’t be easy .

The Cheetahs, still on a high after winning an unprecedented three matches on their Australasian tour, play the struggling Melbourne Rebels in Bloemfontein tomorrow.

The Rebels have internal strife after an altercation between Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna resulted in them being sent home, while the Cheetahs are settled and confident.

On paper, the Cheetahs cannot lose.


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