Cape Town - The Southern Kings and Cheetahs will be ready for action after a handful of inspiring
performances in the last few weeks when they face two Irish PRO14
playoff contenders, Munster and Connacht, this weekend.
The Cheetahs will hunt
their fifth successive victory when they meet Connacht in Galway on Saturday,
while the Southern Kings will be determined to surprise Munster in Cork
on Friday after one win and three narrow defeats in their last four matches.
The Southern Kings may be
at the foot of the Conference B log, but after toppling playoff contenders,
Edinburgh, last month, Johann van Graan's Munster side will not underestimate
the men from PE.
Deon Davids' men have only faced
the Irish giants once and lost, but with seven pool matches left this season
and the Southern Kings showing a new-found confidence after a slow start
to the season, they will enter the match with the mind-set that they have
nothing to lose.
They are, however, expected to
face a home team dead-set on maintaining their lead in Conference A, and who
will have their sights set on their fourth successive victory and stretching
their unbeaten run at home to 18 matches, which is expected to spice up the
The men from the Eastern Cape
will have to be solid on defence, in particular, to keep alive hopes of a
victory, as Munster have scored the second-highest number of points in the
tournament so far, with 404 points earned in their 14 matches.
The Southern Kings will be
without one of their main ball-pilferers CJ Velleman, who is serving a
three-match suspension, but prop Pieter Scholtz is back after serving his ban.
In Galway, meanwhile, the clash
between Connacht and the Cheetahs is expected to be a humdinger with
both teams in the 11-team race for playoff spots.
The Free Staters will enter the
match high on confidence after a string of victories pushed them into
contention for reaching the knock-outs for a second successive season. The fact
that they have defeated Connacht before and went down against them by a narrow
four points in their last outing will also fuel their determination to win.
Connacht, in turn, will be
desperate for a change of fortunes after back-to-back defeats, especially with
every result set to count in the next few weeks.
Franco Smith's charges have been
superior on attack this season with 366 points scored to Connacht's 309, but
the hosts will look to build on their effective defence to shut them out.
The home side, however, are
expected to keep a close eye on Junior Pokomela, Malcolm Jaer and Rabz Maxwane,
in particular, who top the lineout steals, metres gained and clean breaks
statistics in the competition.