Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Southern Kings v Benetton Rugby

Charlie Bennett 23 Mar 2018

Fresh from recording their first Guinness PRO14 victory, Southern Kings welcome Benetton Rugby to Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday afternoon.

A comprehensive 45-13 defeat of the Dragons earlier this month will have lifted the mood dramatically in Port Elizabeth after a tough debut season.

Can they get revenge on Benetton Rugby for October’s 31-3 defeat?

What’s at stake?

Back-to-back defeats have threatened to derail Benetton’s season. But victory here would keep pressure on Ulster Rugby for the Champions Cup play-off.

With four rounds of the regular season let to play, Southern Kings sit at the foot of Conference B on nine points.

But if they can build on victory last time out, they can claim to be on the right track for an improved 2019.

Team news (Southern Kings)

Captain Michael Willemse damaged knee ligaments in victory over the Dragons, so Stephan Coetzee comes into the front row.

Wing Anthony Volmink is also unavailable through injury, so veteran Alshaun Bock deputises.

Half-back pairing Kurt Coleman and Godlen Masimla replace Martin Du Toit and Rowan Gouws, who moves to the bench.

Team news (Benetton)

Kiearn Crowley makes seven changes to the side beaten 31-25 by Cardiff Blues last weekend.

Jayden Hayward returns at full-back, so Luca Sperandio switches to right wing.

Captain Alberto Sgarbi is back at inside centre and the other change to the backs sees Tito Tebaldi replace Giorgio Bronzini at scum-half.

Tomas Baravalle replaces Epalahame Faiva at hooker and it’s all change in the second-row with Federico Ruzza and Irne Herbst getting the nod.

Abraham Steyn and Robert Barbieri come into the back row, with Marco Barbini switching from openside to blindside.

Talking points

Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids said: “Benetton will have all their international players back for this game and will be keen to bounce back after having lost their last match.

“But we are really looking forward to the contest.

Key battle – Alshaun Bock v Monty Ioane

Wing Alshaun Bock, aged 35, makes his first appearance for Southern Kings since January and only his second since the beginning of November.

He will have to be up to speed quickly though, with opposite number Monty Ioane Benetton’s joint-top try scorer this term with seven scores in as many appearances.

With 25 defenders beaten and a cumulative 532 metres made this term, Ioane can prove a real threat to Southern Kings.

Key stat: Benetton’s five-match winning run in the Guinness PRO14 has now been followed most recently by a pair of defeats – at home to Connacht and away in Cardiff.

Did you know? Benetton have won both previous matches against South African opponents, but this is their first visit to the Republic.

Kings: Masixole Banda, Michael Makase, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Alshaun Bock, Kurt Coleman, Godlen Masimla; Schalk Ferreira, Stephan Coetzee, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Greeff, Bobby De Wee, Andisa Ntsila, Martinus Burger, Ruaan Lerm.

Replacements: Tango Balekile, Johan Smith, Luvuyo Pupuma, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Lusanda Badiyana, Rowan Gouws, Martin Du Toit, Jacques Nel

Benetton: Jayden Hayward, Luca Sperandio, Tommaso Iannone, Alberto Sgarbi, Monty Ioane, Marty Banks, Tito Tebaldi; Federico Zani, Tomas Baravalle, Matteo Zanusso, Federico Ruzza, Irne Herbst, Marco Barbini, Abraham Steyn, Robert Barbieri

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Nicola Quaglio, Tiziano Pasquali, Marco Lazzaroni, Nasi Manu, Ignacio Brex, Michael Tagicakibau, Andrea Bronzini

TV: Live on Supersport

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start from just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Banks penalty proves crucial for Benetton in try fest at the Kings

Andrew Lawton 24 Mar 2018

Benetton Rugby returned to winning ways in the Guinness PRO14 with a narrow win over Southern Kings in a free-scoring game at Nelson Mandela Bay.

Both teams scored five tries apiece, with Marty Banks’ penalty proving to be the difference between the two sides.

A fast start and tries from Tomas Baravalle and Marco Barbini gave the Italians the lead, but the Kings responded swiftly through Luzuko Vulindlu and Godlen Masimla.

Keen to bounce back from narrow defeats to Connacht Rugby and Cardiff Blues, Benetton retook the lead through Banks, with Ruaan Lerm pulling a try back for the Kings before the break.

Benetton added tries from Tommaso Iannone and Abraham Steyn, while the Kings hit back through a penalty try and a late Berton Klaasen score.

Benetton started with a bang, Baravalle going over in the corner after just three minutes for the Italian side, following a strong maul from the forwards.

Just three minutes later they had extended their lead, with Barbini finishing off a period of pressure for the visitors as they surged into a 12-0 lead.

After a slow start, the Kings the seemed to spring into life as Michael Makase broke out from inside his own half and found Alshaun Bock, who couldn’t quite gather the ball and ran into touch.

But a steal at the ensuing lineout gave Kings the territory once more and after some patient build-up play, Klaasen threaded a kick through for Vulindlu to continue his fine try-scoring form.

After 18 minutes, the Kings were in front as Masimla sped through onto Klaasen’s perfectly timed pop pass, following an excellent break from Masixole Banda.

But in a pulsating first half, the tries kept coming, with Benetton responding to going behind almost immediately, Banks finding space on the blind side and crossing in the corner for an easy finish.

The away side, looking to keep up the pressure on Ulster in Conference B, looked to assert themselves and secured the bonus point score when Iannone cut inside from the right flank after a period of sustained pressure on the Kings defence.

The South Africans made it seven first-half tries in the match when Lerm touched the ball down at the end of a strong driving maul to take the sides in at half-time just five points apart.

Benetton came out stronger for the second period and Steyn eventually broke through the Kings defence when he burrowed over for the Italians’ fifth score.

Tempers flared as Kings fought for a foothold in the game, with scuffles breaking out between Bobby de Wee and Irne Herbst, but the Kings managed to keep themselves in the Benetton 22, eventually earning a penalty try, with Benetton second row Federico Ruzza heading to the sin bin.

The Kings couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage, as Benetton extended their lead through a Banks penalty.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, a few errors crept into Benetton’s play and the hosts snuck over for their fifth try of the game.

Another good lineout and driving maul left Klaasen with a chance to finish, which he did superbly, dancing past the Benetton defence, Banda kicking to bring the Kings to within a point.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start from just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138