Kings priming themselves for a grandstand finish before Super Rugby exit

12 July 2017 - 17:00 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Luzuko Vulindlu during the Southern Kings training and team announcement at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 12, 2017 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Luzuko Vulindlu during the Southern Kings training and team announcement at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 12, 2017 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

In a perfect world‚ the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs should have been gifted the prime time 5pm kick-off slot on Saturday to mark their Super Rugby farewell.

However‚ they will have to make do with the dreaded 7pm Friday night start at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium but the Kings being the Kings‚ they take whatever comes their way.

They‚ more than the Cheetahs‚ embraced their extinction and used it as a platform to embarrass six teams this season.

With the Bulls and the Sharks hunted down‚ only the Cheetahs remain and after two consecutive away wins by the same score (31-30 against the Jaguares and the Bulls)‚ a grandstand finish is what the Kings are priming themselves for.

Having won six of their 14 matches‚ the Kings have more than outdone themselves as compared to the Cheetahs‚ whose three wins from the same number of matches exemplified their struggles.

Despite Franco Smith's claims that the Cheetahs got better as the season progressed‚ the results tell another story.

Eliminated or not‚ the better resourced and well-serviced Cheetahs have been disappointing.

At times they seemed to let their Super Rugby exit go to their heads and this was characterised by a series of despondent performances.

Their nine-match mid-season losing streak epitomised that and some of their capitulations against the New Zealand sides were abject.

Against the Chiefs and the Highlanders at home‚ the Cheetahs squandered significant leads before the Crusaders‚ Blues and Hurricanes wiped the floor with them.

It has to be said though‚ the Southern Kings were in the same boat with next to no preparation last season but still tried to fight against their New Zealand counterparts.

With that said‚ Kings coach Deon Davids made only one change to the side that beat the Bulls with lock Wilhelm van der Sluys replacing Irne Herbst.

Franco Smith made four changes to the side that lost to the Stormers two weeks ago with Teboho Mohoje making a comeback after his concussion against France in the second test in Durban.

Southern Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer‚ 14 Wandile Mjekevu‚ 13 Berton Klaasen‚ 12 Luzuko Vulindlu‚ 11 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10 Lionel Cronjé (c)‚ 9 Louis Schreuder‚ 8 Andisa Ntsila‚ 7 Tyler Paul‚ 6 Chris Cloete‚ 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys‚ 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda‚ 3 Ross Geldenhuys‚ 2 Michael Willemse‚ 1 Mzamo Majola.

Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout‚ 17 Schalk Ferreira‚ 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen‚ 19 Irne Herbst/Mzwanele Zito‚ 20 Thembelani Bholi‚ 21 Rudi van Rooyen‚ 22 Masixole Banda‚ 23 Waylon Murray/Yaw Penxe.

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies‚ 14 William Small-Smith‚ 13 Francois Venter (captain)‚ 12 Clinton Swart‚ 11 Raymond Rhule‚ 10 Fred Zeilinga‚ 9 Tian Meyer‚ 8 Niell Jordaan‚ 7 Teboho Mohoje‚ 6 Uzair Cassiem‚ 5 Daniel Hugo‚ 4 Carl Wegner‚ 3 Johannes Coetzee‚ 2 Elandré Huggett‚ 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.

Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba‚ 17 Charles Marais‚ 18 Tom Botha‚ 19 Armandt Koster‚ 20 Junior Pokomela‚ 21 Chris Dry‚ 22 Ruan van Rensburg‚ 23 Niel Marais.

- TimesLIVE