The Kings overturned a 17-point deficit to secure a famous 26-24 win over the Waratahs in Sydney on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Kudos to the Kings. Not many would have seen this result coming, but the gallant Kings fully deserved this shock result against a hapless Waratahs side.
Coming into this clash, the Kings had won just a solitary game this season, having lost back-to-back games in Australia, and yet they produced a performance of immense character.
Despite falling 17-0 behind after 35 minutes, the Kings simply refused to roll over and go away. In the end, it was a result built on an outstanding forward effort, which saw the Kings dominate at scrum-time and reap great reward from their powerful mauls.
Aptly, it was a five-pointer from a driving maul and a penalty try won after a dominant scrum that enabled them to roar into the lead late in the game, and come away with a surprising, but fully deserved victory.
As they have done so often this season, the Kings started proceedings with plenty of fearless endeavour, while completing particularly impressive work at the breakdowns and scrums.
However, basic handling errors and soft moments on defence once again proved to be costly, with big Waratahs winger Taqele Naiyaravoro scoring an opportunistic try early on. The hosts then manufactured two 95m breakaway tries by Rob Horne and Cameron Clark.
At 17-0 up, the Waratahs would have been more than pleased to take that advantage into the break, especially considering that they played the final stages of the opening half with a one-man disadvantage after Ned Hanigan was yellow-carded.
The Kings had also enjoyed the better of possession and territory in the opening stanza, but would at least have something to show for their efforts when prop Justin Forwood ran a good line to barge over for a try and reduced the half-time deficit to 10 points.
The visitors built on that momentum early in the second half, as a well-worked try by Masixole Banda brought them right back into the match, and even when flanker Chris Cloete spent 10 minutes in the sin bin, the Kings managed to hold the Tahs scoreless.
In particular, the Kings continued to gain an advantage from their impressive mauling, and deservedly it was from a powerful lineout drive that enabled Michael Willemse to barge over to score, which sent the Port Elizabeth-based side into a shock lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
As the clock wound down, the Kings then backed their scrum to come up trumps, and a penalty try won from this set piece in the 77th minute sealed the win. Although the Tahs would score one final consolation try by Naiyaravoro, this was a result for the Kings to celebrate well into the night.
Waratahs – Tries: Taqele Naiyaravoro (2), Rob Horne, Cameron Clark. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2).
Kings – Tries: Justin Forwood, Masixole Banda, Michael Willemse, penalty try. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (2).
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David McDuling, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Angus Taavao, 18 David Lolohea, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Harry Jones.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Justin Forwood.
Subs: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Ruaan Lerm/Martin Bezuidenhout, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Stokkies Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Photo: Peter Parks/Getty Images