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PREVIEW: Blues v Kings

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Thursday, May 5, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 11: Blues v Kings, 3.05am Sunday 8 May (NZT), Port Elizabeth

TALE OF THE TAPE
Although this will be the first time the Kings have played the Blues, their form against New Zealand teams has been disappointing this season. In clashes against the Chiefs, Crusaders and Hurricanes, the Kings conceded a total of 157 points across the three losses. The Blues have not won in South Africa since 2012 but will eye this as their best opportunity in recent times.

COUNTER ATTACK THREAT
The Blues showcased their attacking ability last week with six classy tries against the Rebels. One player to standout was fullback Lolagi Visinia with a number of telling breaks from the back. With Rieko Ioane and Rene Ranger out for the season, through sevens commitments and injury respectively, Visinia and his wing partners Tevita Li and Melani Nanai will look to pick up the attacking slack this weekend.
TURNOVER KINGS
One area the Kings have excelled at this season is at the breakdown. The Port Elizabeth-based side is the only South African team to have more than one player winning more than 10 turnovers. Flanker CJ Velleman has been particularly productive at the ruck area with 17 turnovers while Chris Cloete has chipped in with 12. The hardworking pair will be sure to disrupt and unsettle the Blues flow at the breakdown.

TALL TIMBER
The Blues second row of Patrick Tuipulotu and Josh Bekhuis have formed a formidable partnership this year. While both are equally skilled in the lineout, they complement each other around the park with Tuipulotu bringing a strong running game and Bekhuis a high work rate. They square-off against the strong Kings pairing of veteran Steven Sykes and young star JC Astle. 

TEAMS
BLUES: 15: Lolagi Visinia 14: Melani Nanai 13: George Moala 12: Piers Francis 11: Tevita Li 10: Ihaia West 9: Bryn Hall 8: Steven Luatua 7: Taneru Latimer 6: Jerome Kaino 5: Josh Bekhuis 4: Patrick Tuipulotu 3: Ofa Tu’ungafasi 2: James Parsons (C) 1: Sam Prattley
Reserves: 16: Matt Moulds 17: Nic Mayhew 18: Charlie Faumuina 19: Hoani Matenga 20: Kara Pryor 21: Billy Guyton 22: Matt McGahan 23: Male Sa’u

KINGS: 15: Jurgen Visser 14: Lukhanyo Arn 13: Stefan Watermeyer 12: Shane Gates 11: Luzuko Vulindlu 10: Elgar Watts 9: James Hall 8: CJ Velleman 7: Thembelani Bholi 6: Chris Cloete 5: John-Charles Astle 4: Steven Sykes 3: Tom Botha 2: Edgard Marutfulle 1: Sithembiso Sithole
Reserves: 16: Martin Ferreira 17: Justin Ackerman 18: Jacobie Adriaanse 19: Schalk Oelofse 20: Stefan Willemse 21: Ntando Kebe 22: Louis Fouch 23: Leighton Eksteen