The Southern Kings will play their first ever Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Blues, when they face the team from New Zealand at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth later today.
The visitors, currently 12th on the combined Super Rugby log on 20 points, have picked up wins in their last two outings after a slow start to their 2016 campaign.
They suffered two defeats against the Crusaders and Hurricanes and a draw against the Reds after their opening round win against the Highlanders.
The team from Auckland picked up their second win against the Jaguares at home in Round 5 and recorded back-to-back wins against the Cell C Sharks and Rebels after a Round 6 defeat against the Gallagher Chiefs.
Blues coach, Tana Umaga said they excited to play in South Africa.
“It is the first time that the Blues will play the Kings and my first time in this proud rugby nation as a Super Rugby coach, so we are all looking forward to the experience.”
“We know we are in for a tough match and we are looking forward to playing at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium which is a real privilege for the team.”
“We hope we can play well and produce a style of rugby that is exciting for the fans here in South Africa,” Umaga said.
Outside centre George Moala will start in his 50th match when he takes the field for the Blues.
The home side who returned from their one tour match in Argentina will not have fond memories of their visit to the Velez Sarsfield Stadium in Buenos Aires after the Jaguares out scored the Southern Kings eleven tries to four.
The Jaguares raced to a 40 – 15 half-time lead as they scored six first half tries.
Chris Cloete and Stefan Watermeyer scored the Southern Kings’ first half tries with a conversion and a penalty from Elgar Watts.
The Southern Kings added another two tries after half-time through Thembelani Bholi and captain Steven Sykes, but it did little to the score board as the home side added a further five tries to end the match 73 – 27.
If the Southern Kings manage to pull off a win today they will finish this weekend on 8 log points, leapfrogging the Sunwolves on the combined log.
15 Jurgen Visser 14 Lukhanyo Am 13 Stefan Watermeyer 12 Shane Gates 11 Luzuko Vulindlu 10 Elgar Watts 9 James Hall 8 CJ Velleman 7 Thembelani Bholi 6 Chris Cloete 5 JC Astle 4 Steven Sykes (captain) 3 Tom Botha 2 Edgar Marutlulle 1 Sithembiso Sithole
16 Martin Ferreira 17 Justin Ackerman 18 Jacobie Adriaanse 19 Schalk Oelofse 20 Stefan Willemse 21 Ntando Kebe 22 Louis Fouche 23 Leighton Eksteen
15 Lolagi Visinia 14 Melani Nanai 13 George Moala 12 Piers Francis 11 Tevita Li 10 Ihaia West 9 Bryn Hall 8 Steven Luatua 7 Tanerau Latimer 6 Jerome Kaino 5 Josh Bekhuis 4 Patrick Tuipulotu 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi 2 James Parsons (captain) 1 Sam Prattley
16 Matt Moulds 17 Nic Mayhew 18 Charlie Faumuina 19 Hoani Matenga 20 Kara Pryor 21 Billy Guyton 22 Matt McGahan 23 Male Sa’u