Preview: EP Kings v Free State Cheetahs
The EP Kings will have it all to do on Friday in the second leg of their Currie Cup promotion-relegation play-off against the Free State Cheetahs.
The hosts will attempt to wipe out a 39-point deficit following a 53-14 first-leg defeat in Bloemfontein last Friday.
With a log-point system in operation for the series, and the Cheetahs having picked up a full haul of five points and the Kings none, it means that for the Kings to win promotion to the Premier Division next year they would not only have to beat the Cheetahs by 40 points or more at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, but also make sure they denied the visitors a try-scoring bonus point in the process.
The Kings earned the right to play in the promotion-relegation series after Alan Solomons' men topped the First Division log at the conclusion of the competition's round-robin matches.
Solomons said this week they remained confident of playing in the top-tier of the domestic competition next season.
"This is our opportunity to set the record straight and prove that we belong up there," he said.
"We made way too many mistakes in the first game and that enabled the Cheetahs to heap up the points.
"We also gave away too many penalties and turned over too much possesion."
Solomons said the Kings, who will play in the Super Rugby competition next season, expected the "same type of mentality" from the Cheetahs as they showed in their victory in Bloemfontein last week.
"We know that they will want to overpower us, but we also know that we let our supporters down in the first round," he said.
"We've worked hard during the week and hopefully we can produce the goods."
The Cheetahs picked up a full haul of five points in the first leg and secured a bonus point in the process.
The Kings, left with a mountain to climb, must win the second leg by 40 points and prevent the visitors from scoring a bonus point if they are to qualify for the Currie Cup premier division.
The visitors, however, insisted in the build-up to the return fixture that they had no intention of letting their foot off the accelerator and would arrive in Port Elizabeth with the intention of scoring as many tries as possible.
"That is why we have selected winger Rayno Benjamin in the starting line-up," said Cheetahs coach naka Drotske.
"He looked very good on the attack in the first game and made a huge impact from the bench.
"The idea is to score as many tries as possible without throwing caution too much into the wind."
EP Kings: 15 Michael Killian, 14 Norman Nelson, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Tiger Mangweni, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Devin Oosthuizen, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Conraad Britz, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Darron Nell (captain), 3 Andre Schlechter, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Mpho Mbiyozo, 20 Scott Mathie, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Scott van Breda.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Hendrik Venter, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Nico Scheepers.
Date: Friday, October 26
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Quintin Immelman, Cobus Wessels
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen
Assessor: Willie Roos