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: Ospreys vs Southern Kings

Charlie Talbot-Smith 15 Feb 2018
James King

Southern Kings travel to the Liberty Stadium for the first time on Friday night seeking their first Guinness PRO14 win of the season.

Ospreys meanwhile are hunting down a European spot with only seven games remaining.

What’s at stake?

Ospreys start the weekend in sixth place in Conference A and are seven points off Connacht in fifth so will be looking to close the gap to help them secure a place in next season’s Champions Cup.

Southern Kings currently sit 12 points adrift at the bottom of Conference B and are still looking for their first win of the season.

Neither team have tasted victory in their last five matches in all competitions, with Ospreys coming closest in their 15-15 draw at home to Saracens back in January.

Team news (Ospreys):

Eighteen-year-old Dewi Cross is set to make his Guinness PRO14 debut after scoring in his first appearance in an Ospreys shirt against Bath at the start of the month.

Dan Biggar, Bradley Davies, and Alun Wyn Jones are all unavailable as they remain with the Welsh squad during the Six Nations rest week.

But prop Nicky Smith, second row Adam Beard, flanker Justin Tipuric and centre Owen Watkin will all link up with the Ospreys after Gatland released them back from international duty.

Team news (Southern Kings):

The Kings make just one change from the XV that took to the field against Ulster last weekend in the 59-10 defeat as left-wing Anthony Volmink is replaced by Michael Makase.

Fly-half Martin Du Toit has shaken off a lower back problem and scrum-half Rowan Gouws also starts after concerns over his ankle, which will boost the Kings’ hopes.

The visitors have also made just one change on the bench with Luvuyo Pupuma coming in for the injured Dylan van der Westhuizen.

Talking points

Ospreys interim head coach, Allen Clarke, said: “There were positive signs in Connacht last Friday.

“We played the game with the right intent but failed to make the most the of the possession and territory that we had, hence the disappointing outcome on the night.

“There’s been plenty of positivity around the place this week but with the realism of where we are at the moment and what we need to do if we want to qualify for the Champions Cup next season.
“These next three weekends are crucial for us, with back to back home games before we go to Zebre at the start of next month.

“Our focus is fully on delivering the best performances and outcomes that we can, before we regroup and take stock of our position for the final push.”

Key battle – Olly Cracknell v Bobby De Wee

With both players amongst the top three in the Guinness PRO14 tackle count this season, it may come down to whose defence is best on Friday evening.

Cracknell has impressed throughout Ospreys’ campaign this year with his relentless tackling appetite, totting up a monstrous 167 tackles.

Bobby De Wee has also stood out since switching to the Guinness PRO14 from the Golden Lions last summer, and has since made 155 hits for the Kings.

De Wee’s versatility is his strongest asset, with his great athleticism meaning he can play in the second row or the back row and make breaks from anywhere on the park.

Key stat: Olly Cracknell has made 171 carries in the Guinness PRO14 so far this season, more than any other player.

Did you know? Southern Kings have never played against Ospreys in their eight-year history.

Ospreys: Dan Evans, Jeff Hassler, Kieron Fonotia, Owen Watkin, Dewi Cross, Sam Davies, Tom Habberfield, Rhodri Jones, Sam Parry, Ma’afu Fia, Adam Beard, James King, Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric, Rob McCusker (c).

Replacements: Scott Otten, Nicky Smith, Dmitri Arhip, Guy Mercer, Will Jones, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Luke Price, Hanno Dirksen.

Southern Kings: Masixole Banda, Yaw Penxe, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Makase Michael, Martin Du Toit, Rowan Gouws, Schalk Ferreira, Michael Willemse (c), Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Greeff, Bobby De Wee, Andisa Ntsila, Martinus Burger, Ruaan Lerm.

Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Johan Smith, Luvuyo Pupuma, Jurie Van Vuuren, Eital Bredenkamp, Godlen Masimla, Barend Janse van Rensburg, Harlon Klaasen.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 58th competition game)

AR1: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)

AR2: Richard Kerr (IRFU)

TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

TV: Live on BBC2 Wales: 19:30 and SuperSport Six: 21:30

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

Ospreys battle back to see off Southern Kings

Charlie Bennett 16 Feb 2018

Two second-half penalty tries proved crucial as Ospreys denied Southern Kings a first ever Guinness PRO14 win at the Liberty Stadium.

The South Africans led at the break thanks to tries from Michael Makase and Michael Willemse, cancelling out scrum-half Tom Habberfield’s earlier effort for the hosts.

But the Welsh side went back to basics in a scrappy second half and forced two penalty tries from driving scrums before Jeff Hassler secured a bonus point with a late fourth.

The Kings remain winless this season while Ospreys close the gap between them and fifth-placed Connacht in Conference A.

Ospreys had not won in their previous five games but they started on the front foot here, with their forwards impressing at the breakdown in wet conditions.

The set-piece was always going to be vital and it paid off for Ospreys within ten minutes when captain Habberfield scampered over off the back of a scrum.

But the Kings are notoriously dangerous from open play and levelled the score in some style after the break.

Some quick hands from the centres opened up space out wide and pacey winger Makase burst through to score in the corner – with Martin du Toit nailing the conversion.

It got worse for Ospreys minutes later when winger Dewi Cross limped off with an injury, replaced by Hanno Dirksen.

The Kings gradually grew in confidence and they pounced just before the break as captain Willemse powered over from close range.

The Ospreys piled on the pressure in the second half with a string of pick-and-go attempts near the try-line but replacement Nicky Smith was held up just at the crucial moment.

A series of Ospreys scrums did not come off and prop Johan Smith was sin-binned for several infringements.

But the hosts continued to ramp it up and it finally worked in the 66th minute when referee David Wilkinson awarded a penalty try after a powerful drive from the scrum.

The Kings were reduced to 13 men shortly after the kick off when Eital Bredenkamp was yellow carded at the breakdown.

And Ospreys’ forwards got to work, securing a second penalty try from another scrum before Hassler crossed in the corner.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Ticket prices start at 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