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Super Rugby relegation/promotion play-off preview: Lions v Kings
The Lions take on the Kings in Johannesburg on Saturday with a place in the 2014 Super Rugby tournament at stake as they contest the second leg of their promotion/relegation play-off.
The hosts enter the deciding clash brimming with confidence following their 26-19 victory in Port Elizabeth last weekend.
In the build-up to the crunch fixture Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made two changes to the side which triumphed last weekend.
Ackermann's hand was forced by an injury to Deon van Rensburg who has been replaced by Deon Helberg on the right wing.
Scrum-half Viaan van der Watt also picked up an injury during the first clash meaning Ross Cronje will come into the starting XV.
Meanwhile, the Kings have suffered a major blow as they seek vengeance to secure their Super Rugby status with three key players missing.
Director of Rugby Alan Solomons will contest his final Kings game without top point scorer Demetri Catrakalis or captains Andries Strauss and Luke Watson.
The injury to Catrakalis in the first play-off game means George Whitehead will assume the number 10 jersey while Stokkies Hanekom and Dylan des Fountain partner in the centres in the absence of Strauss.
In the pack, Derick Minnie and Jack Kriel join forces in the flanks with Luke Watson unavailable for selection.
The Kings enter the second leg with a seven-point deficit to overturn and should the Lions lose by seven and fail to score four tries to secure a bonus point, the play-off series will be classed as a draw and the Kings will retain Super Rugby status.
Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Guy Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Chrysander Botha.
Southern Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Scott van Breda, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell (capt), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Charl du Plessis, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Shane Gates.
What they said...
Lions head coach Johan Akermann
"The pressure stays the same, and in rugby seven points is not something to rest on and we have to start all over again and be accurate in what we do.
"The advantages that we've got, like the altitude and the home crowd, we have to use, but we still have to go out and do it."
Kings head coach Matt Sexton
"I think the general feeling we have is excitement, it's a huge occasion, it's like a Test match or World Cup final.
"You take each team on their merits and there are opportunities that will be presented during the match and we just need to capitalise on that.
"The times where we have been successful on the score board are times where we've been very clinical in our approach."
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com