Sep 10 • General News • 1892 Views • Comments Off on EP U19 AND U21 VERSUS FREE STATE CHEETAHS PREVIEW

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EVEN with an unblemished record of eight wins in eight matches, the EP Kings U19 team are sticking to their policy of looking ahead no further than their next game as they prepare for the return encounter against the Free State Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday (September 11, kick-off 14.15).
Skipper Jeremy Ward has been at the forefront of the Kings team’s surge to the top of the table and says they will not be deviating from an approach which has served them well this season.
The Kings are fresh from a confidence-boosting 34-22 win over the Golden Lions in Johannesburg, but Ward emphasised that was no reason to get complacent in face of the tough challenge they faced against the Free Staters.
“The whole season we have been taking it one game at time and that has worked for us,” Ward said. “We know we need to keep focusing on that, to stay humble and to keep on working hard because we still have a lot to do.”
He acknowledged, though, that the mood in the U19 camp was “great”.
“Winning does make that sort of thing far easier, but we also know we have to keep on working,” he said.
Even though Free State have won only three of their eight games, Ward said they were preparing for a tough encounter with the visiting team. EP won the first round fixture 28-15, but that will count for nothing when the teams line up on Friday.
“We know what we can expect against the Free Staters and they will come out with all guns blazing,” Ward said. “They had a very good game (two weeks ago) against Western Province, losing by just one point, so we will not be underestimating anyone.”
The EP U21 side play in the main curtain-raiser to the seniors game against their Cheetahs counterparts, kicking off at 16.30, and will be looking to utilise homeground advantage to secure their second win of the season.
After a tough first round Kevin Kaba’s side bounced back when they beat the Sharks a fortnight ago to record their first win this season. They will be aiming to give another improved performance this week and they showed good spirit last weekend, even while losing to the Lions.
They were completely outclassed by the Johannesburg side in the first round match, but were much more competitive in Johannesburg, despite losing 40-24.
The Kings were also well beaten by the Free Staters in their opening match of the season in Bloemfontein, but now have a chance to measure their improvement in this home encounter.
It will not be easy, though, because Free State have been highly competitive all season and are fresh off a 34-17 against the Bulls. With the fight for positions in the playoffs growing tighter each week, the EP U21s will face a stiff examination from their Bloem opponents.
The teams are:

EP U19 (15-1): Michael Brink, Avelo Jubase, Yamkela Nyalambisa, Jeremy Ward, Athi Mayinje, Garrick Mattheus, James Hall, Junior Pokomela, Hayden Tharratt, SF Nieuwoudt, Lusanda Badiyana, Robert Lyons, Kuhle Mokhoabane, Thango Balekile, Xandre Vos.
Replacements (16-23): Masikane Mazwi, Greg Jackson, Roche van Zyl, Wihan Coetzer, Xolisa Matshoba, Sibusiso Ngcokovane, Jordan Koekemoer, Dominik Uytenbogaardt.

EP U21 (15-1): Malcolm Jaer, Khaya Malotana, Somila Jho, Leighton van Wyk, Lindelwe Zungu, MC Venter, Franswa Ueckermann, Kevin Kaba (capt), Brandon Brown, Jason Reinecke, Tyler Paul, Jan Uys, Thembelihle Yase, JP Jamieson, David Murray.
Replacements (16-22): Jedwyn Harty, Ronnie Beyl, Wynand Grassman, Justin Hollis, Luvo Claasen, Sam Bedlow, Warren Swarts.

The latest logs, matches in brackets, are:

U19: EP 36 (8), Blue Bulls 30 (8), WP 28 (8), Golden Lions 17 (7), Leopards 15 (8), Free State 13 (8), Sharks 6 (7).

U21: WP 33 (8), Golden Lions 27 (7), Free State 25 (8), Blue Bulls 23 (8), Sharks 19 (7), Leopards 7 (8), EP Kings 4 (8).

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