Saturday was truly an historic evening in Eastern Province rugby, not just for the fact that the Southern Kings played their first Super Rugby game but they also managed to secure their first win against the Western Force, also something none of the other newly added teams could do.
The Cheetahs went down to the Bulls 30 – 18, Brumbies were too strong for the Force beating them 25 – 10 and Waratahs thumped the Rebels 43 – 0. The Force might not have had the best start to this years Super Rugby losing 23 – 30 to the Rebels, and might just finish bottom of this years combined log.
The Kings might not have had the best build up the their campaign and really needed something special from all the players. Kings started the game defending like their lives were depending on it and made 194 (90%) tackles to Force’s 108 (76%), David Bullbring making the most tackles 23 in total. Force openside flank Matthew Hodgson made most of those runs, 17 in total and making 49 meters with ball in hand.
Jacques Engelbrecht did the most damage for the Kings with when he came on to replace Luke Watson in the 31st minute with 9 tackles, gained 87 meters in his 10 carries, hitting 11 ruck and mauls, creating 1 turn over and only missed one tackle.
Cornell du Preez also contributed with 2 offloads, 20 tackles with only missing 1, hit 6 ruck and mauls and managed to get 2 turn overs and gained 38 meters with the ball. Andries Strauss and Ronnie Cooke were tested by the Force in the mid field and only missed 3 out of 22 tackles. SP Marais gained 69 meters running from the back he was also involved in 7 ruck and mauls and managed 1 turnover.
Man of the match Sergeal Petersen scored two tries with 1 line break 9 tackles and gained 47 meters for his team. Wimpie v d Walt contributed with 18 tackles and Schalk Ferreira with 16. Bandise Maku, Cornell du Preez and Shaun Venter managed 2 turn overs a piece with Andries Strauss getting 3.
The Kings were strong in the scrum winning all their own scrums, 9 in total and won 9 from 10 line outs and stealing 5 from the Force throw in.
It really was a great team effort from the Kings from keeping the ball in the contact situation to keeping the miss tackles to a minimum, they can take a lot of confidence from keeping the Force from scoring in the closing minutes of the game. The Kings also looked stronger and played with more confidence as the game progressed.
The Kings have a few positives to build on, but they will be tested in the weeks to come when they face the two finalists from last year, first up will be the Sharks losing finalists and the Chiefs winners from last year before heading on the overseas tour.Tweet