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Kings starting team unchanged for Stormers

The Southern Kings have named an unchanged starting line up for their penultimate Super Rugby match against the Stormers in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

In the only change to the 22-man squad, experienced lock Steven Sykes returns from injury to the bench, replacing Rynier Bernardo.

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Sykes is sure to get some game time as the Southern Kings begin to look ahead to the key Super Rugby promotion/relegation playoffs against the Golden Lions at the end of July and early August.

Young wing Sergeal Petersen remains on the sidelines, but is expected to get a run in the EP Kings Currie Cup side.

“Sykes has played an important role for the team this year and is a key player for us,” Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said.

“He practised today and came through with no ill effects, but we will check his progress tomorrow to make sure everything is ok.”

The Kings will be playing their last home game in the round-robin phase of this year’s competition and Solomons said they were determined to redeem themselves after a poor showing against the Bulls at Loftus where they were outplayed 48-18.

“We are looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd and we are determined to put in a good performance,” Solomons said.

“We were very disappointed with the effort against the Bulls, not that there was any lack of commitment, but the players just did not play well.”

The Kings have beaten New Zealand (Highlanders) and Australian sides (Western Force and Melbourne Rebels) in their three wins, but have yet to record a victory over a South African franchise.

With just two matches remaining, versus the Stormers and the Sharks, Solomons said that was something they still hoped to achieve.

“We know it will be tough but we have yet to win an SA derby and we would love to do that on Saturday,” he said.

Southern Kings

SP Marais, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (capt), Michael Killian, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Schalk Ferreira, Bandise Maku, Kevin Buys, Cornell du Preez, Darron Nell, David Bulbring, Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques Engelbrecht.

Replacements: Grant Kemp, Hannes Franklin, Steven Sykes, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead, Shane Gates.

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