It’s derby time in South Africa and on Friday all Guinness PRO14 roads will lead to Port Elizabeth where the Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs will take centre stage in their first encounter of the season, which is also the only match of the weekend.
The clash will be significant for both teams, as the Toyota Cheetahs will look to maintain their unbeaten run against their South African counterparts after winning all three previous matches between them in the competition, while the Isuzu Southern Kings will be desperate to register their second victory of the season.
The Free Staters are fresh off a morale-boosting 27-12 victory against Zebre Rugby Club in Italy – their third victory in five outings – and this is expected to boost their confidence going into the clash.
The home side, in turn, will have their sights set on bouncing back from their disappointing 38-0 defeat against Edinburgh in Scotland, especially after an encouraging spell in their four previous encounters in which they suffered three defeats by seven points or less.
The Toyota Cheetahs have been superior on attack and defence this season, with the Bloemfontein outfit having scored 36 tries and conceding 44, while the Isuzu Southern Kings scored 28 and conceded 52.
These statistics, however, could have little significance, especially with the hosts mindful of the fact that they went down by only nine points the last times the sides crossed paths in the competition in April in Port Elizabeth.
Their match-day teams have yet to be announced, but the Isuzu Southern Kings will be particularly wary of Toyota Cheetahs’ try-scoring machine, Rabz Maxwane, who is the top try-scorer in the competition with eight tries, but they will also keep a close eye on the hosts’ Yaw Penxe, who is also on the top try-scorers list with five tries.
There was good news on the injury front this week for the Isuzu Southern Kings as Masixole Banda (leg) and Tertius Kruger (hand) were declared fit after suffering injuries in their last match, while Sibusiso Sithole has recovered from a long-term knee injury, and will be available for selection.
Guinness PRO 14 Round 14 fixture:
Isuzu Southern Kings v Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Friday, 18 January
SA time: 19h00
Venue: Madibaz Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni and Paul Mente
TMO: Shaun Veldsman