THE Dragons will face a Southern Kings side stung by criticism by Guinness PRO14 chiefs when they attempt to end their four-year away drought next weekend.

The Rodney Parade region play the first part of their double-header in South Africa when they take on the Kings in Port Elizabeth.

They then take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein the following Saturday with the hope of achieving at least one success to end the 42-game losing streak on the road in the PRO14 that stretches back to Treviso in March, 2015.

However, the Dragons will travel as underdogs as they are below the Kings by a point in Conference B – they have four wins to the South Africans' two but their hosts have picked up more bonus points.

The Port Elizabeth team, who boast former Rodney Parade favourite Sarel Pretorius in their ranks, have enjoyed just three successes since joining European rugby.

They hammered the Dragons 45-13 last season and in the current campaign have beaten Glasgow and Edinburgh. In the same period the Rodney Parade region have won just six times.

The Cheetahs have fared much better and after making the play-offs last year have won six times this season.

The Kings have been taken over by a consortium at the start of the month with chairman Loyiso Dotwana saying the club are "on a tightrope" with the PRO14.

In a message that has echoes of the statements made by Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips when they took over the Dragons, Dotwana told TimesLIVE: "There is an expectation that we will throw money at a whole bunch of marquee players. But that's not the case.

"Obviously we are looking for a few big names to bolster the side‚ but the plan is steady growth and improvement.

"The PRO14 organisation has raised concerns about the Southern Kings' performances and value to the tournament.

"We are on a tightrope with PRO14 and we will respond to those challenges in a positive way. So we will recruit some good players in the short term to improve our quality.

"Also‚ coach Deon Davids hasn't had the right support so we will help him by employing some new assistants and expertise."

The Dragons beat the Kings 27-22 when the teams met in Newport in the opening month of the season but it was a nervy victory with the South Africans causing all manner of problems with their expansive approach.

It was the same in the humiliation at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last March when the Kings ran in six tries to record their first PRO14 victory.

So far this term they have notched five try bonuses and seven losing consolations thanks to strong displays on home soil.

Scrum-half Pretorius has played seven times for the Kings this season after only making his debut in January because of a foot injury.

The 34-year-old was a hit after joining the Dragons from the Cheetahs in 2015, making 72 appearances over three campaigns and impressing with his pace in broken play and eye for the line.

However, he is a doubt for the clash against his former teammates after missing last week's 33-19 loss to Ulster in Belfast because of a knee injury.