Cheetahs keep playoffs in sight ahead of Kings clash

The Southern Kings will host the Cheetahs in the first South African derby in PRO14 on Saturday, with the teams faced with contrasting objectives ahead of the game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The Cheetahs are seeking to keep up their bid for a place in the playoffs from Conference A, while the Kings are hoping for a first win of the campaign after 11 straight losses.

The match is the first of back-to-back derby games, with the reverse fixture to be played in Bloemfontein a week later.

The Cheetahs are currently third in their conference, with two games in hand over realistic challengers Cardiff Blues, Connacht Rugby and Ospreys, and could take a giant step towards securing a playoff place with a pair of wins over the Kings.

The Free State side have a number of injury worries though, with centres Francois Venter (neck) and William Small-Smith (knee) both definitely out. But Venter believes that if they stay disciplined and do not give away penalties, there is every chance they will be victorious.

"We must pick up our discipline‚ it's going to be key‚" Venter told OFM. "Especially in areas that we can control. Things like not rolling away‚ or offside lines. That really killed us a bit.

"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."

Kings coach Deon Davids has shuffled his half-back pairing for the game, as well as his wings in a bit to find a winning formula.

"At number nine, Rowan Gouws comes in to take the place of Rudi van Rooyen. Oliver Zono is back after injury and takes the place of Kurt Coleman at flyhalf," Davids told reporters.

"Wing Anthony Volmink returns to the side after attending to personal commitments and Michael Makase is back at number 14 after recovering from injury."

Yaw Penxe has moved from the wing to the fullback position.

Davids, who has looked to give as many players as possible game-time in the competition to the end of the season, has also rotated his locks with the return of regular pair Stephan Greeff and Bobby de Wee for Juri van Vuuren and Dries van Schalkwyk, who did duty in the 37-7 loss to Edinburgh last weekend.

Davids also believes his side are not far off a maiden victory, which would be a huge boost for their confidence ahead of their second year.

"Firstly, I think we're due a little luck and, secondly, players naturally seem to lift their game a notch or two when it's a local derby," he said.

"My main message to the team this week has been to not let the emotion of the occasion get to them and to show patience when on attack. We must also endeavour to play in the right areas of the park and keep our mistakes to a minimum."