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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Preview: Southern Kings v Scarlets

Charlie Talbot-Smith 24 Nov 2017

Defending Guinness PRO14 champions the Scarlets are in Port Elizabeth on Sunday to take on the winless Southern Kings.

What’s at stake? Scarlets top the Conference B pool table with seven wins out of eight so far this season while the Kings are bottom of the same Conference.

The two sides have met once before, in the opening fixture of the 2017/18 campaign, with Scarlets running out 57-10 victors in Llanelli.

Team news (Southern Kings) The Southern Kings team named by head coach Deon Davids shows a number of changes from the one that ran Ulster so close in their last fixture.

Recent loan signing from the Lions Anthony Volmink has immediately been included in the run-on XV at right wing in place of veteran Alshaun Bock and there is a change at centre pairing too – although exactly what the final selection will be depends on the result of a late fitness test to be undergone by Martin Du Toit. Should he come through the test unscratched then Du Toit will line up in the number 12 jersey with Berton Klaasen alongside him but if he fails Klaasen will wear number 12 with Jacques Nel outside of him.

Amongst the forwards, coach Davids has elected to make just one change with Martinus Burger getting a start at flank in place of Jurie van Vuuren.

Team news (Scarlets) Scrum-half Jonathan Evans will lead the side in their first of two South African clashes with the Scarlets looking to further cement their place at the top of Conference B.

Josh Macleod is the only change to the pack the started against Benetton Rugby in the Guinness PRO14 a few weeks ago with the 21-year-old homegrown talent replacing John Barclay, who is on international duty with his native Scotland.

Pivac has made three changes to the backline that took on Benetton with Paul Asquith moving from the wing to inside centre to link up with former Wales Under 20s captain Steff Hughes and 19-year-old Ioan Hughes coming in on the wing.

Talking points On the Scarlets bench is the one and only Mike Phillips who has come out of retirement to aid the Scarlets in their time of need.

The two-time British & Irish Lion, who won 94 caps for Wales, retired at the end of last season following a spell in England with Sale.

“It’s just been one of those things. We looked at the nines available to us within the region, and Welsh qualified players in the Championship, but they were unable to travel due to work commitments and club commitments,” said Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac.

“We are delighted that Mike has been able to answer the call and will be joining us in South Africa. He has a wealth of experience, is a proud former Scarlet and will be a great addition to our travelling squad.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us with a younger side traveling out there. There is an opportunity for some players who’ve been watching a lot of rugby from the sidelines to get involved and that’s certainly a good thing for the development of the squad.

“We’ve got to make sure that we play well in the first game and hopefully get a win against the Kings and a result against the Cheetahs would be a bonus. For us our eyes are firmly fixed on the Kings first up.”

Key battle: Andisa Ntsila v Will Boyde

The battle of the two opensides will make for compelling viewing at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday.

Andisa Ntsila has been a menace all season for a Kings side that have made the third most turnovers in the league.

The South African flanker has also made more tackles than any other player in the entire Guinness PRO14.

But Will Boyde will be making his 50th Scarlets appearance on Sunday and along with Tadhg Beirne forms a threatening flanker pairing – especially with James Davies back and approaching full fitness.

Key stat Southern Kings have lost all eight matches they have played in the Guinness PRO14, although they did pick up their first two league points in gaining a try and losing bonus in their defeat to Ulster at Isaac Wolfson Stadium in round 8.

Did you know? Reigning champions Scarlets’ only defeat in the Guinness PRO14 since March was 20-27 away to Ulster on 15 September.

Southern Kings: Yaw Penxe, Michael Makase, Berton Klaasen/Jacques Nel, Martin Du Toit/Berton Klaasen, Anthonie Volmink, Oliver Zono, Rudi van Rooyen, Schalk Ferreira, Stephan Coetzee, Rossouw De Klerk, Stephan Greeff, Bobby De Wee, Andisa Ntsila, Martinus Burger, Ruaan Lerm

Replacements: Alandre Van Rooyen, Luvuyo Pupuma, Pieter Scholtz, Jurie van Vuuren, Dries van Schalkwyk, Godlen Masimla, Kurt Coleman, Harlon Klaasen

Scarlets: Johnny Mcnicholl, Tom Prydie, Steff Hughes, Paul Asquith, Ioan Nicholas, Dan Jones, Jonathan Evans, Dylan Evans, Ryan Elias, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, David Bulbring, Tadhg Beirne, Will Boyde, Josh Macleod
Replacements: Taylor Davies, Rhys Fawcett, Simon Gardiner, Tom Price, Jack Condy, Mike Phillips, Ioan Hughes, Morgan Williams

TV: At Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 3pm. Live on SuperSport and S4C

Match Officials: Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU, 5th competition game), Assistant Referees: Stephen Geldenhuys, Rodney Boneparte (SARU), Citing Commissioner: Nomsebenzie Tsotsobe (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 can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Scarlets haul themselves past plucky Kings

Daniel Barnes 26 Nov 2017

Dan Jones inspired defending Guinness PRO14 champions Scarlets as they overcame a spirited Southern Kings in South Africa to keep themselves top of the tree in Conference B.

The Scarlets were given a stern examination of their credentials by the Kings, still searching for their first win of the season, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium but, despite a raft on players away on international duty with Wales, Wayne Pivac’s troops did enough to claim a 34-30 victory.

Tadhg Beirne set the tone for the table-toppers, collecting Jonathan Evans’ offload before darting over the line with five minutes gone, Dan Jones converting.

The hosts hit straight back however thanks to a superb piece of vision from Oliver Zono.

The Kings fly-half glanced to his right before chipping an excellent cross-field kick into the air, with Michael Makase leaping high to claim the ball before travelling over the whitewash as he landed, reducing the deficit to two points.

In the 17th minute, the Kings edged in front with more enterprising play as a stylish, sweeping move ended with Berton Klaasen splitting the Scarlets’ back line with a brilliant grubber kick right into the path of Yaw Penxe, who provided the finishing touch.

Zono bisected the posts with a penalty shortly afterwards to make it 13-7 but, having found their early impetus largely stunted, the Scarlets clawed away at the deficit as Dan Jones comfortably kicked over at the other end with six minutes of the first period remaining.

Another Zono penalty would see the Kings would restore their six-point lead at break and their chances of claiming victory looked all the more promising early in the second period when, after winning a lineout in a favourable position, Martin du Toit jinked over the line for his team’s third try of the afternoon, Zono adding the extras.

The Scarlets, who at the start of the half had introduced veteran Mike Phillips, the former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half who dramatically came out of retirement in midweek, set about attempting to chip away at the 11-point gap between themselves and the Kings.

In the 52nd minute, they did just that as Jones swept the ball out to Ioan Nicholas on the left flank and the young winger crashed over, Jones converting to make it 23-17.

The Scarlets fightback continued apace and not long afterwards, South African prop Werner Kruger barged over, Jones adding the extras once again, as the visitors snuck back in front.

A Jones penalty saw the Welsh side lead 27-23 just past the hour mark but with 66 minutes on the clock, a hoof upfield from Kurt Coleman the Kings caused complete chaos.

With two players from each side deceived by the resultant bounce, Harlon Klaasen was able to gleefully ground the ball, Coleman converting to swing the pendulum back the other way.

But, with 10 minutes to go, back came the Scarlets and, following a driving maul, fly-half Jones stormed over before converting what would prove to be the match-winning score.

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 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