While it may not have the history of some of the other South African derbies, this weekend’s PRO14 clash between the Southern Kings and Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth promises to be a spectacle of running rugby that will showcase the best of both sides on Saturday.
Both teams pride themselves on their attacking philosophies and while there are the obvious bragging rights in terms of being the top South African side in PRO14 on the line, Kings coach Robbi Kempson believes that it will produce some outstanding rugby this weekend.
Kempson made the confident prediction that the rugby on display would “appeal to anyone watching it” and believes his side are looking forward to clashing with their more fancied opponents.
“I don’t think there is the bite in this game that you have in the north-south derbies but there always is something, it is mates playing against mates and they have quite a few of our ex-players up there playing for them and there is already quite a bit of banter going on,” Kempson said.
“There will be an edge to it, to be sure, but I don’t think it will be an ill-tempered affair. I think it will be a good spectacle of rugby, especially because the way we want to play the game and the way they want to play the game will appeal to anyone who is watching it.”
South African derbies normally have the odd bit of niggle in them, but for both sides discipline is a watchword, and both will be looking to ensure that a card does not swing the result away from them.
“Discipline is key, as with every game in PRO14. We are fortunate to have Stuart Berry, who is rated in the top three refs in PRO14. But discipline in every game is important but even more vital in one where there might be a bit of niggle. I still think it won’t be anything over the top, but certainly you can’t afford to be going down to 14 men in any game and expecting to win,” Kempson added.
While the Cheetahs will start favourites and have won the last three fixtures in Port Elizabeth, the Kings have grown significantly this year under Kempson and he believes that character will shine through in the match.
“It has been a process over the last six to eight months where we really have changed the culture of the group. The leadership group has changed significantly from what we had from the outset and the culture of the team has grown immensely.
“We had to dig deep in that Edinburgh game and we were still in contention with 16 minutes to go and the wheels were always going to come off at some stage. It was a team-building character though and add to that the Stormers game, played in terrible conditions but the guys really gutsed it out. The squad has come a long way from day one.”
Either way the teams are set for a mouth-watering contest, and Kempson believes his side will be able to match the Cheetahs on the field.
- Kick off for the game is 15:30 on Saturday.