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Kings clash a chance for Connacht to get back on track

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Connacht head coach Andy Friend. Photo: Sportsfile

Connacht head coach Andy Friend. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Connacht head coach Andy Friend. Photo: Sportsfile

It's likely Andy Friend would have made the voyage to Port Elizabeth in a fishing trawler this weekend if he had been guaranteed a win over the Kings to go with safe passage. One win from six would do that to you.

In fairness to Connacht a four-game block in the middle of that was against top quality opposition, with Cardiff offering some respite. The Kings offer more of the same. It would suit Friend's opposite number Robbi Kempson if Connacht were to be greeted with sweltering temperatures but even that's unlikely.

With one win - away against Ospreys back in November - to their credit, the Kings are a long way from regal. Nevertheless, Friend was reading from the diplomacy handbook when assessing the scale of the challenge today.

"The Kings are a dangerous side especially at home so we will have to be at our very best," he said. Eh, well not so dangerous that they have beaten anyone there this season in the Pro 14.

With a view to keeping it that way Friend will be relieved to get Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan back from the Irish camp. Along with the same quality back-row of captain Jarrad Butler and flankers Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga'a for the third game running it's comforting consistency for the coach.

Conference leaders Edinburgh gave Connacht a good seeing-to in the last round leaving Friend's men well off the pace in fourth place starting the weekend. Defeat this afternoon would sink them without trace.

For the Kings there is the encouragement that their performance in losing at the Sportsground before Christmas was one Kempson rated as encouraging. It's a start at least.

Southern Kings: M Banda; C Hollis, S Sithole, H Mnisi, E Cronje; S Masuku, S Ungerer; S Ferreira, A van Rooyen, R de Klerk, J Sexton, JC Astle, L Badinyana, T Bholi, E Louw. Replacements: R Stevens, X Vos, P Scholtz, B de Wee, R Lerm, T Maree, T Botes, J Twum-Boafo.

Connacht: T O'Halloran; J Porch, K Godwin, T Daly, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; P McAllister, S Delahunt, D Robertson-McCoy, U Dillane, J Maksymiw, P Boyle, C Fainga'a, J Butler (capt). Replacements: D Heffernan, D Buckley, C Kenny, E Masterson, E McKeon, K Marmion, C Fitzgerald, P Robb.

Referee: C Jadizwene (SA)

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 1.0; TV: eir Sport

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