The Guinness PRO14 breaks new ground on Saturday, quite literally, as the Southern Kings play host to Leinster in the first game on South African soil. The game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium kicks off at 2.15pm local time, which is 1.15pm BST.
What’s at stake? The Southern Kings have been on the wrong end of a couple of tough losses so far in the Guinness PRO14, but they will be keen to change that for their first home game of the campaign. Leinster, for their part, have picked up a maximum ten points from ten and will be keen to extend their perfect record.
Team news (Southern Kings): The Kings have made three changes to the team that faced Connacht last week, with Rudi van Rooyen coming in at scrum-half. Up front Luvuyo Pupuma is included at tighthead prop while the final change sees Stephan Greeff comes into the second row.
Team news (Leinster): Leinster have made a host of changes to the team that beat Cardiff Blues last weekend with a number of players back from injury. In the backs Joey Carbery and Dave Kearney come into the back three for their first appearances of the season, as does centre Noel Reid. It’s also a revamped forward pack, including a first-ever start for young second row James Ryan, who made his international debut for Ireland in the summer.
Talking points: Leinster’s build-up to the game has been disrupted by visa issues for Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson-Park, who had to return to Dublin to resolve the issue. They will now rejoin the side on Sunday for the second part of the South African tour, and will be available to face the Toyota Cheetahs. Leo Cullen confirmed that neither was due to start the game.
Key battle: The battle up front will likely be crucial to this game and the head-to-head between Schalk Ferreira and Andrew Porter should be particularly intriguing. Kings skipper and loosehead Ferreira is vastly experienced and will go up against Porter, a highly-promising former Ireland Under-20s prop. Having switched from loosehead to tighthead, this will be a good test of Porter’s development.
Key stat: Leinster have won each of their first two games with a bonus point but have not taken 15 points from 15 in their first three games since the 2001/2 season.
Did you know? Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth becomes the 40th different venue to host a Guinness PRO14 encounter, and the first in South Africa.
Leinster: J Carbery, A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, D Kearney, R Byrne, L McGrath, E Byrne, S Cronin, A Porter, R Molony, J Ryan, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Conan.
Replacements: J Tracy, C Healy, M Bent, M Kearney, J van der Flier, N McCarthy, C Marsh, J Larmour.
Southern Kings: M Banda, Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole, K Coleman, R van Rooyen, S Ferreira, M Willemse, L Pupuma, S Greeff, D van Schalkwyk, K Majola, V Sekekete, A Ntsila
Replacements: S Coetzee, P Strauss, M Dreyer, B de Wee, S Mdaka, G Masimla, N Dukisa/O Zono, J Nel
TV: SuperSport 1/TG4 (KO 2.15pm local)
Match officials – Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU) Assistant Referee 1: Mike Adamson (SRU) AR2: Cwengile Jadezweni (SARU) TMO: Johan Greeff (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
Leinster are the early Conference B pacesetters after racking up their third victory on the spin on an historic day for the Guinness PRO14.
In the first match in the championship to ever be played in at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Leinster showed no signs of travel sickness as they recorded a 31-10 victory in the backyard of the Southern Kings.
It took less than four minutes for the hosts to open their account, Masixole Banda converting a simple penalty after the visitors were penalised for offside.
After the Kings controlled the early stages, Leinster roared back with nine minutes on the clock and after laying siege to the hosts’ defensive line, Ed Byrne and Luke McGrath combined to allow Noel Reid to sneak over the line to bag the first Guinness PRO14 try on South African soil, Ross Byrne converting from a tricky angle.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) September 16, 2017
The two teams went hammer and tong from there on out but neither was prepared to concede an inch, with the score remaining 7-3 right through to the half-time break.
The impasse was broken just a few minutes into the second period, however.
Leinster burst into life and outside centre Rory O’Loughlin was able to shake off a tackle to force his way over the whitewash to stretch the visitors’ advantage to five points.
Shortly afterwards, patient play through the phases led to Leo Cullen’s troops continuing their explosion out of the blocks, Jack Conan charging forward to clinch his team’s third try of the afternoon, Ross Byrne successfully adding the extras to make to 19-3.
The blue blitz continued from there on, with O’Loughlin involved as Leinster went wide and sent Joey Carberry over for the visitors’ fourth try, which secured a bonus point.
James Ryan is a star in the making! #LeinsterinSA
— Brian O’Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) September 16, 2017
Ross Byrne converted to put the visitors 23 points to the good and Carberry almost had his second try of the match in the 59th minute, only for the score to be chalked off for a Cian Healey knock-on in the build-up.
However, a fifth Leinster try would arrive in the 72nd minute courtesy of Dave Kearney.
The scoring wasn’t done there however and the Kings finally enjoyed the moment they had been chasing all match – their first Guinness PRO14 try at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Jacques Nel was the man to dot down for the home side, the replacement getting himself over the line after good work from Oliver Zono, Kurt Coleman kicking the resultant conversion.
James Tracey almost went over for Leinster at the death but he was held as he attempted to ground the ball.
15 Sep 2017
15 Sep 2017