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Super Rugby Round 12 Preview: Pat Lambie returns to take reigns against Kings

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Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie returns to the Cell C Sharks team to face the Southern Kings on Saturday as well as resuming the captaincy from Philip van der Walt for this local Vodacom Super Rugby derby which kicks off at 17h15 in Port Elizabeth.

Two South African sides are in action on Friday morning and both are involved in away matches. The Toyota Cheetahs start their New Zealand leg in Auckland where they take on the Blues (09h25), while the next match features the Emirates Lions against the Brumbies in Canberra (11h45).

The Vodacom Bulls host the Highlanders in the early Saturday afternoon kick-off (15h05) at Loftus Versfeld. The DHL Stormers, Chiefs, Sunwolves and Waratahs all have byes.

Last weekend the Jaguares snapped a four-match losing streak with their comeback win over the Sunwolves and this coming Saturday they host the Force in the final fixture of Round 12.

Lambie came on as a second-half substitute against the Force last Saturday and the away match in PE will be his first start since returning from a lengthy injury absence. He takes over the pivot role from promising youngster Curwin Bosch, who is preparing with the Junior Springboks for next month’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Georgia.

The Durban side travel to PE on the back of four previous wins in their fixture against the Kings. However, victory for Deon David’s team will hand them three consecutive wins for the very first time. The Kings’ starting team is similar to the one that started in the 44-3 win over the Rebels two weeks ago, with the only change being the return of Schalk van der Merwe at loosehead prop for Justin Forwood, who is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.

Head coach Robert du Preez has largely retained the same Durban side that beat the Force 37-12 at home last week and apart from the inclusion of Lambie, he also made three rotational changes. Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo is back in the starting mix following his rest weekend. In the front row Beast Mtawarira returns for Thomas du Toit while Franco Marais and Chiliboy Ralepelle swap jerseys.

Johan Ackermann’s team have lost only one of their previous ten matches and they are currently the runaway leaders in Africa Conference 1 with 42 points. Another triumph will give the Highveld outfit a clean sweep of victories in Australia.

Ackermann made five changes to the side which thumped the Rebels 47-10 in Melbourne, including a fresh front row combination.

Franco Smith’s Toyota Cheetahs flew to New Zealand immediately after last Saturday’s heart-breaking loss to the Highlanders and they must now pick themselves up for the challenge that awaits them in Auckland.

The Vodacom Bulls are normally rock-solid at Fortress Loftus, however, they will be looking to avoid back-to-back losses at home for the first time since 2015 when they entertain the Highlanders.

Hanro Liebenberg, the former Junior Springboks skipper, missed last weekend’s defeat against the Crusaders because of a hamstring niggle and the number eight returns to the side in place of Renaldo Bothma. He takes over the captaincy from Adriaan Strauss, who has a foot injury.