The Dragons kicked a 75th-minute penalty to grab an 18-18 draw in a competitive basement battle with the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The result brings the Kings back to reality after a feel-good few weeks following their private takeover in March.
The Dragons will be the most pleased with the result as they found themselves staring at defeat when Kings centre Harlon Klassen gave the hosts an 18-10 lead in the second half.
With this result, which came through a Josh Lewis penalty, the Dragons remain just one point off the Kings in Conference B and have kept their hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon alive.
It was the visitors who struck first as Hallam Amos plucked a chip over the defence out of the air and offloaded to Adam Warren to score. Lewis added his first penalty to extend their lead, but the Kings hit back when scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer leapt over the ruck to score after a number of phases.
Ungerer then turned provider as he grubbered a ball through which Bjorn Basson gathered and grounded as the Kings got their second in just a couple of minutes.
Both teams played a loose brand of rugby and looked to run it whenever possible, leading to a high error rate for both teams, but the Dragons enjoyed the better of the territory and applied better kick pressure throughout the match. Bader Pretorius slotted a penalty of his own to take the Kings to a five-point lead at the break.
The Dragons got the second half off to a strong start when a strong 5m maul and a number of pick-and-goes got them close to the Kings line. However, the hosts once again survived and cleared their lines.
The Kings then got their third try when Ungerer won back possession with a vital intercept, and a couple of phases later, the ball was spread out wide to Harlon Klaasen, who sprinted clear to score in the corner.
After winning possession back from the proceeding kickoff, the visitors kept the pressure on the Kings and this eventually told when Jordan Williams went on a stunning run, breaking through a number of poor tackles to score and narrow the deficit to just three points.
Both teams then lost front-row forwards as referee Frank Murphy yellow-carded Alulutho Tshakweni and Leon Brown after yet another reset scrum, before Brown’s replacement Lloyd Fairbrother was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous cleanout. Kings wing Michael Makase also saw yellow a couple of minutes later after mistiming his kick chase and taking Jordan Williams out in the air.
In a tense final five minutes, the Kings tried to run the clock down with forward drives inside their own half but conceded the inevitable penalty which Lewis converted to seal the draw.
Kings – Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Bjorn Basson, Harlon Klassen. Penalty: Pretorius.
Dragons – Tries: Adam Warren, Jordan Williams. Conversion: Josh Lewis. Penalties: Lewis (2).
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JC Astle, 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Alandré van Rooyen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Steph de Wit, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Berton Klaasen, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
Dragons – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Max Williams, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Richard Hubbard (c), 1 Brok Harris.
Subs: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Lennon Greggains, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Jordan Williams.