The Kings faced the Lions in their first outing on Saturday in what some in the media called a “grudge” match, even though it was downplayed by Lions coach Johan Ackermann you can bet it was not the case for those Lions supporters turning out to watch the game.
The Kings travelled to Johannesburg without the services of some of their first choice players; Hannes Franklin, Jaco Engels, Steven Sykes, Cornell du Preez, Luke Watson, Nicolas Vergallo, Demetri Catrakilis, Andries Strauss, Waylon Murray, Michael Killian and SP Marais.
The Kings managed to cross the try line first when captain Darron Nell went over in the 21st minute, conversion by Wesley Dunlop to take a 7 – 3 lead. Kings learned a vital lesson in how important it is to secure your ball from the kickoff, Siyanda Grey dropped the ball inside his 22 that led to the Lions first try to bring the score to 10 – 7.
For the first 40 minutes the Kings were mainly on the back foot and had to do all the defending while the Lions were running from all angles, which led to another two tries before the half time break, Lions taking a 22 -7 lead at the break.
The Kings looked a bit better in the second half and replacement Daniel Adongo brought some much needed spark to the forward pack, and also had a role to play in their second try in the 50th minute to bring the score to 27 -14.
Kings scrum half Johan Herbst had a few sneaky breaks from behind the ruck and managed to add his name to the score card as the Kings sneaked closer to the Lions score, 34 – 21 in the 65th minute.
The Kings managed to score another converted try through Hadleigh Parks to bring the score within seven points, 34 – 28. A penalty by George Whitehead brought the scores to 31 – 34.
Pressure was back on the Lions to avoid an embarrassing defeat by the Kings at their home ground, but kept a cool head when they got a penalty 5m out in the dying minutes and decided to set up the line out and drive it over. Kings forwards failed to match up to the Lions pack and they managed another successful drive from the line out, some of the Kings players asked the question of truck and trailer when the Lions went over, but the try was awarded.
Final score Lions 41 Kings 31.
My immediate thoughts are that the Kings will be defending and on the back foot for most of there games, but they will improve as the season continues, and might just surprise one or two teams.
They can’t afford to lose any of their big name players and a player like Luke Watson will be vital in the success of their first season.
It will be interesting to see what fire power the likes of Demetri Catrakilis, Andries Strauss, Michael Killian and SP Marais can offer the backs.
My second choice to Catrakilis will be Whitehead, he just looked a bit more in control then Dunlop in his ball distribution and his vision on the field.
Looking at their foreign situation they need to include Daniel Adongo, the way he man handled some of the Lions players could help the Kings when they face the Aussies and Kiwis who like to play in your face, then they can look at Nicolas Vergallo or Hadleigh Parks to add more strength to the back line as their second choice.
They were in no means embarrassed by the Lions and actually surprised a few doubting their ability, and how ever the season might develop if they face the Lions for a promo/relegation game it should be an interesting one not to miss.Tweet