Cheetahs lick lips for Kings in play-off chase
The Cheetahs will limp into the first ever South African Pro14 derby against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday minus some key players.
Centres Francois Venter and William Small-Smith will both miss the match with neck and knee injuries, respectively‚ which means Namibian hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld will captain the side.
Venter’s injury is not serious and he should only miss this weekend’s game, but Small-Smith is out for three months after tearing his medial collateral ligament.
The Cheetahs and Kings have never met in this competition although they did have four meetings at Super Rugby level.
The Bloemfontein side have always been victorious in those encounters although the last time they met‚ in Port Elizabeth last July‚ there was only one point in it as the Cheetahs won 21-20. Much has happened since with both sides dropping out of Super Rugby and moving into Pro14‚ and despite the Kings’ struggles so far‚ it could be a tight match.
The Kings have yet to register a win in the competition after 11 matches, while the Cheetahs are still in play-off contention in Conference A despite a dispiriting loss to Benetton last weekend. Discipline cost the Cheetahs as two yellow cards allowed the home team to come from behind to claim a morale-boosting 27-21 win.
Staying on the right side of the law is going to be a key factor for the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth as they aim to stay on course for the play-offs.
"We must pick up our discipline‚ it’s going to be key‚" Venter told Bloemfontein radio station OFM. "Especially in areas that we can control.
"Things like not rolling away‚ or offside lines. That really killed us a bit," Venter said.
"Lessons have been learnt and it’s time to move on.
"We take on the Kings now and it’s not going to be easy. I know that they have been waiting for us and we are going to have to be at our best to get an away win."
The Kings come into the match on a 37-7 loss to Edinburgh.