Southern Kings will be looking to secure their first ever PRO14 points as the league newcomers face Zebre Rugby Club, with both sides looking up their respective conferences at present.
The Italians will also be hoping to return home with their first win of this year’s campaign at Nelson Mandela Bay, with the action getting underway on Saturday night at 7.35pm local time.
What’s at stake? Southern Kings will be desperate to bounce back after a 30-10 defeat to Conference B leaders Leinster in their maiden Guinness PRO14 game at Nelson Mandela Bay.
Zebre meanwhile know will need to improve their defence to triumph here after conceding eight tries against the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend.
Both sides are yet to win after three defeats on the bounce in the inaugural PRO14 season, and neither will want to add to that record.
Team news (Kings): Fly-half Kurt Coleman is expected to be out of action for four weeks after sustaining a quadricep injury last week against Leinster. Pieter-Steyn de Wet starts in his place.
Rossouw De Klerk also features on the bench having completed his compulsory concussion protocol, being deemed fit to play at the expense of Petrus Strauss.
Team news (Zebre): Head Coach Michael Bradley has made four changes to the side that faced Cheetahs last weekend, with Roberto Tenga set to make his first start in the white and black jersey.
Zebre are without a number of players through injury including Andrea Manici, Maxime Mbandà, Matteo Pratichetti and Tommaso D’Apice.
Talking points: Andrea De Marchi could become Zebre’s most capped player in the game against Kings this weekend.
De Marchi is currently tied with Dries Van Schalkwyk, now a Kings player, with 94 caps but could make history should he make an appearance from the bench.
Key Battle: Dries Van Schalkwyk v Mattia Bellini
Last season Van Schalkwyk was Zebre’s top try scorer, managing five tries, but this time around he is facing off against his old team.
Zebre will be hoping that their current top try scorer, winger Mattia Bellini, will be able to add to the two tries he has already managed so far this season and fill the gap that Van Schalkwyk left.
Did you know? The two sides have never played each other before. Saturday’s PRO14 clash will be their first ever meeting.
Southern Kings: M Banda, Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole, P de Wet, R van Rooyen, S Ferreira, M Willemse, L Pupuma S Greeff, D van Schalkwyk, K Majola, V Sekekete, A Ntsila
Replacements: S Cronin, P Dooley, A Porter, R Ruddock, M Deegan, N McCarthy, C Marsh, R O’Loughlin
Zebre: M Minozzi, G Bisegni, T Boni, T Castello, M Bellini, C Canna, M Violi, R Giammarioli, G Licata, J Meyer, G Biagi, D Sisi, R Tenga, Oliviero Fabiani, A Lovotti
Replacements: S Panico, A De Marchi, D Chistolini, J Sarto, D Minnie, G Palazzani, S Bordoli, C Gaffney
TV: Eurosport Player (KO 7.35pm local)
Match officials – Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU), AR1: Andrew Brace (IRFU), AR2: Quinten Immelman (SARU) TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
Zebre resisted a brief Southern Kings comeback as they scored six tries to secure their maiden victory of the season with a 43-17 win at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Italian outfit enjoyed the dream start as they scored two tries within the first six minutes against their South African opponents, with Tommaso Castello and Mattia Bellini crossing early on.
Renato Giammarioli and Tommaso Boni added further scores as the visitors raced into a 29-3 lead – a Pieter Steyn de Wet being the only response from the Kings.
But the second half saw Godlen Masimla and Luvuyo Pupuma touch down for the hosts, who fought their way back into the match to reduce the deficit to 12 points.
But an astute dummy run from Marcelo Violi created space out wide for Giulio Bisegni, who grabbed Zebre’s fifth before Jacabo Sarto inflicted another at the death.
In a crunch encounter, Zebre went into the game a point better off than their South African counterparts, as both sides were looking to earn their first win of the season.
After extensive TMO analysis, Tommaso Castello was deemed to have grounded the ball four minutes into the game despite the efforts of Pupuma and Reynier Van Rooyen.
Carlo Canna coolly converted, before Zebre raced into the King’s 22 after the re-start for Mattia Bellini to grab his third try of the season.
The Kings replied through Steyn de Wet, who marked his PRO14 debut by slotting through the posts at the first opportunity, before Masimla and Pupuma crossed.
But Zebre came roaring again, working the ball wide and opening up the King’s defence for Giammarioli to finish well in the far corner, with Canna adding the extras.
Boni’s third try off a perfectly constructed try off the line-out appeared to put clear daylight between the two sides, with Canna making no mistakes from the tee at 3-29.
But, within minutes after the re-start, Dries Van Schalkwyk – who enjoyed a five-year playing stint at Zebre – intercepted from midfield and charged into Zebre’s 22.
The South African’s grubber was latched onto by Masimla who restored hope for the South African newcomers as Steyn de Wet converted at 10-29.
And the momentum stayed with the home side, as the Kings recycled quickly to allow Pupuma to charge over from close range as Steyn de Wet – fulfilling the kicking duties for the injured Kurt Coleman – made it three from three at 17-29.
But Zebre responded through Giulio Bisegni, who bagged his side’s fifth try after a well-worked scrum deep in Kings’ half.
And Sarto dotted under the posts for Zebre’s sixth with a minute remaining after an impressive one-handed offload from Castello to secure Zebre’s first win of the campaign and leave the Kings still searching for theirs.
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via