Coach Deon Davids says the Kings’ decision-making and execution need to be better against the Dragons on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Kings suffered a 32-16 loss against Zebre last week, but Davids insists that his charges weren’t that far off the mark in their Pro14 season opener.
‘I was actually impressed with how the guys fought and played until the end, given the fact that we had so many challenges to overcome before the match in terms of the squad not being able to play a warm-up game,’ Davids told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘I can’t fault the guys’ effort. We actually created more chances than Zebre, but I just felt the ball didn’t bounce our way and we were unlucky with one or two decisions going against us.’
Davids says much of the Kings’ preparations this week stemmed from what went wrong against Zebre.
‘One of the things I took away from that match was most of the players’ inability to adapt to the situation in front of them,’ he said. ‘So this week, we focused on our game awareness, in terms of understanding how a shift in momentum can influence the match. For example, we’ll do two or three good things, but then follow that up by conceding a turnover. We need to cut out that trend and improve our discipline when we attack.
‘We also need to improve our back play,’ he added. ‘We are putting ourselves under too much pressure with poor exit kicking, especially immediately after we’ve scored points. And lastly, in the previous game we had four entries into the opposition 22, but we didn’t convert them into points. Generally, we have to make better decisions when we have opportunities to finish. Those are the big work-ons for us.’
The Kings’ next assignment is against the Newport-based Dragons, the only team they beat last season. But Davids insists that win in March means little now.
‘We’ll be making a huge mistake if we judge the Dragons on that result. Speaking from experience, there’s no easy game in this competition. We just have to focus on our own performance, building from the lessons we learned in the previous game and what we want to achieve in this match at Rodney Parade. If we do that, the result could go either way.’
He also confirmed there are a few injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game.
‘Our captain Michael Willemse is a bit of a concern. After a few hard knocks, he suffered a bit of bruising. Fullback Michael Botha, who had an excellent debut game, and centre Harlon Klaassen have groin injuries. We’re hoping they’ll recover in time to face the Dragons, but at the moment it’s touch and go.’