Win over lowly Zebre crucial for Kings

2017-09-22 12:41
Deon Davids (Getty)

Cape Town - While the rugby-loving public's attention has been firmly on the Springboks and their troubles in New Zealand, the Kings have quietly gone about notching up three heavy defeats in what is proving to be a tough introduction to the PRO14. 

It was always going to be a big ask for coach Deon Davids. 

The confirmation of the Kings and Cheetahs joining the competition this year came late, leaving both franchises with minimal time to prepare. 

For the Kings, it was even more difficult given that the bulk of their big players from Super Rugby 2017 had secured moves elsewhere when there was uncertainty surrounding the future of the Port Elizabeth-based franchise. 

The result has been three tough weeks of rugby where they have been second best by some distance. 

A 57-10 hammering at the defending champion Scarlets in week one was followed by a 32-10 loss at Connacht in week two. 

Then, in their first home game of the season last weekend, the Kings were comfortably beaten 31-10 by Leinster. 

It hasn't taken long to see that the journey ahead for the Kings will be an arduous one. 

Even more concerning than the result in PE last weekend was the fact that a little over 3000 people turned up at the picturesque Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. 

For a tournament that is supposed to be the answer to sustained rugby in the Eastern Cape, it was an abysmal start. 

Something needs to happen for the fans to buy into this team like they did during the Super Rugby season, where PE provided a serious vibe on match days. 

Perhaps the PRO14 is not as glamorous as Super Rugby, but it is more likely the fact that followers of the Kings felt a little short-changed after they were dumped from the southern hemisphere's premier rugby product. 

Either way, the fans will only come back if the Kings start delivering a better brand of rugby than what they have dished up in the first three rounds. 

It will obviously take time and faith should be placed in Davids to get it done - he is becoming an expert at starting fresh - but results at home will go a long way towards convincing the PE faithful that this side is worth watching. 

More than that, it will begin to justify the decision to include them in the competition at a time when many, especially those based overseas, have their doubts. 

That makes Saturday's clash against Zebre crucial. 

The Cheetahs beat the Italians 54-39 in Bloemfontein last weekend in a match where both defences were virtually non-existent, and now the Kings must get a result too. 

Zebre joined the PRO12 in the 2012/13 season and they have finished rock bottom of the overall log in four of their five seasons, with an 11th place finish in 2015/16 their best result. 

If the Kings are to become a serious force in PRO14 rugby, then a win over what has been the worst side in the competition in recent years is a good place to start. 

Kick-off on Saturday is at 19:35.

Follow Sport24's @LloydBurnard on Twitter...



15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet,  9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Dries van Schalkwyk, 4 Stephen Greeff, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira

Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel


Read more on:    kings  |  pro14  |  deon davids  |  port elizabeth  |  rugby


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