Southern Kings v Sharks Super Rugby Preview

The Southern Kings shocked the Western Force in their opening match so they can say that they are the only team in Super Rugby who have never lost a match.

That could change on Saturday though as the Sharks used Port Elizabeth as a secondary base in the late 1990s, and have never lost there.

The Sharks only played there twice and won both matches, against the Chiefs in 1998 and the Brumbies in 1999.

This weeekend will be a very tough baptism to the harsh world of South African derbies for the Kings, who only have a handful of players in their squad who have experienced the intensity of these encounters before.

One of these is midfielder Andries Strauss, who started his Super Rugby career at The Sharks in 2006 and is now the Kings’ vice-captain.

Strauss said the Kings realise they will have to lift their intensity from the Force match if they are going to give The Sharks a run for their money.

“As a team we have set ourselves goals, and winning one game doesn’t mean we’ve really achieved anything yet,” said Strauss.

“If we want to win more games in this competition, we are going to have to improve on that performance. There is no better way than to take on a side with a bunch of Springboks and showing the world once again that we can play this game.”

Kings head coach, Matt Sexton, said: “We will definitely be looking at improving our level of ball retention.”

“If you consider that during the Western Force game we made in excess of a hundred tackles in the first half of the game, which, if you have to take those sort of statistics into every game, sooner or later you’re going to run out of petrol, so we want to make sure we retrieve the ball and hold onto it.”

The Sharks started the season very well, with good wins over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the Stormers in Durban.

But John Plumtree, their coach, admitted they were still not 100% happy with all aspects of their game.

“We were not entirely happy with what we did on the weekend in terms of our attack,” said Plumtree.

“In saying that, looking at the Kings, their set-piece and defence stats are right up there at Super Rugby standard. That just shows that they are certainly capable.

“I don’t think the Force expected it and they got it, good on the Kings. If you look at their side, there are a lot of seasoned campaigners, some young guys who are pretty enthusiastic, they put it all together and came up with a good performance.

“I also thought (flyhalf) Demetri Catrakilis was really good, played well and controlled the game and I thought their setpiece functioned really well – their lineouts and scrummaging. “

“I like their fullback, SP Marais, he looked really good and reminded me of an Israel Dagg while they have a solid midfield with Andries Strauss and Ronnie Cooke. They’re a capable side, definitely, they should do alright.”

Apart from Strauss, who played 22 Super Rugby matches for The Sharks, the Kings boast another former KZN stalwart in Steven Sykes, who featured in 69 matches at this level for the Durbanites between 2007 and 2012.

Unfortunately injury has robbed a third former Shark, Luke Watson, of the opportunity to lead his new team against the side for whom he made his Super Rugby debut as a fresh-faced 19-year-old way back in 2003. He will start on the bench.

The Bookies have given the S. Kings a 19 point start for this Match – with an offer of a FREE $150 BET. The Sharks won’t let the home fans intimidate them like the Force did and they should be too organised for the Southern Kings. The Sharks should win by 15.

This Match will be shown on TV in NZ, Aus, SA and in the UK on Sky Sports Website.

Average score:Southern Ki

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