Pro 14: Southern Kings v Cheetahs Preview

Standing between the Cheetahs and a shot at participating in Pro14 playoff rugby at their first attempt, stand fellow Saffas, the Southern Kings. Indeed, this weekend’s battle in Port Elizabeth has a distinctly different flavour about it than the usual South Africa derby, reports Shaun Goosen.

Southern Kings v Cheetahs
28 April 15h00
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

To Win ( 80 mins) 
Kings 3/1
Draw 26/1
Cheetahs 2/9

For one, this is uninhabited territory for teams from the Republic. This being the first season of South African representation in the Celtic league, the chance for perennial Super Rugby bottom-feeders the Cheetahs to qualify for the knockouts is a huge positive for rugby in the country. It would mean that the much-criticized SAR made the right call in investing in the Pro14 and that they are deserving of our praise.

Another factor to consider, though, is that big wins for both the Kings and Cardiff Blues this weekend would result in the men from the Welsh capital going through at the Free Staters’ expense. The Blues sit five points behind the Cheetahs and a win for them by 23-points or more, coupled with the latter failing to claim at least one-point from Saturday’s derby, will see them into the last six.

These, of course, are all merely pre-match permutations. No matter the result of the Blues’ game, the Cheetahs should be far too strong for a Kings team that has suffered 19 losses from their 20 games thus far. Despite a solitary win to the Dragons in PE in March, Deon Davids and his side, unlike their Bloemfontein brothers, have really struggled in their debut season. The loss of numerous core members of their 2017 Super Rugby squad has been pivotal, with an overall lack of quality proving telling in the end.

Still, the Kings do have next year to improve; keeping the same coaching staff and players will be vital to their evolution. There really have been many encouraging signs. The Cheetahs, on the other hand, will expect to play in an effective “quarter-final” next week (most likely against the Scarlets). Anything beyond that would be a bonus.

Verdict: Cheetahs 2/9
Tough to see Rory Duncan’s men blowing this one. They should take a comfortable win to head into the knockouts with plenty of confidence by 14 points or more.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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