What you need to know:
- The Elephants, who edged out Zimbabwe Goshawks 36-5 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, are assured of a place in the semi-finals
- Odera said they are aiming to end their maiden appearance at Currie Cup on a high before shifting their focus to the Africa qualifier for their 2023 Paris Rugby World Cup
- After beating Leopards, Odera said his players now need to prove that it wasn't a fluke by putting up another good performance
Kenya Simbas hope for a glorious end to their Currie Cup First Division campaign takes an acid test when they confront Eastern Province Elephants Saturday at the RFUEA ground from 4pm.
Both teams have reshuffled their squads that won their previous matches last Saturday, opting to tighten especially their forward lines as they eye a smooth end to the regular Currie Cup season.
The Elephants, who edged out Zimbabwe Goshawks 36-5 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa last weekend, are assured of a place in the semi-finals.
They are currently placed second in the 10-team championship with 31 points drawn from six wins and two losses while the Simbas are placed eighth with 13 points and out of contention.
The Simbas sealed their second win in the event last Saturday, stunning defending champions North West Leopards from South Africa 51-35 at the RFUEA ground. They now have two wins and six losses.
Kenya Simbas coach Paul Odera has made seven changes replacing Beldad Ogeta and Derrick Ashiundu with seasoned hands of Collins Injera and Jacob Ojee at right and left wings respectively. Fullback Darwin Mukidza rounds off the back three.
John Okoth and Vincent Onyala will maintain their midfield partnership with half backs Samuel Asati and Dominic Coulson completing the Simbas starting backline.
Most of the changes are in the forward line of attack where Patrick Ouko and Brian Waraba have replaced Edward Mwaura and Teddy Akala at loose-head and hooking respectively.
Ephraim Oduor retains his position as tight-head but Malcom Onsando and Thomas Okeyo come in for Emmanuel Silungi and Davis Chenge at second row.
The only replacement in the back row is Martin Owila, who comes off the bench for skipper Dan Sikuta as George Nyambua and Bethuel Anami retain their places.
On the Elephants side, wingers Davian Swanepoel and Rodney Damons and scrum-half Ropuche Nel get to start after missing out last weekend. Second row Johannes Huisamen and flankers Diego Williams and Gerrit Huisamen also make a return to the starting lineup.
Odera said they are aiming to end their maiden appearance at Currie Cup on a high before shifting their focus to the Africa qualifier for their 2023 Paris Rugby World Cup.
“It’s been a fantastic week, obviously with every win, there’s always the confidence that comes into the team,” said Odera. “The mood in camp has been very buoyant despite the challenge of pointing out to the boys that there is still a lot to do.“
After beating Leopards, Odera said his players now need to prove that it wasn't a fluke by putting up another good performance.
Elephants assistant coach Zane Bosch said that they will take the Simbas encounter seriously knowing that the semi-finals beckon for them next weekend.
“This is a good fixture that will prepare us well for the knockout stage,” said Bosch.