The Kings fired late to claim a 29-22 bonus-point win against a 12-man Jaguares side in Port Elizabeth on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
To say discipline has been a problem for the Jaguares in their debut Super Rugby season is an understatement. Following the match in Port Elizabeth, the Jaguares have conceded the most yellow (eight) and red (two) cards.
Unbelievably, they conceded two red cards and one yellow on Friday and still managed to come away with a losing bonus point. That outcome said a lot for the Jaguares' determination. It also said a lot for the hapless Kings. Even with the numerical advantage, the hosts battled to make inroads.
Nevertheless, the Jaguares would do well to address their aggression in the wake of another reckless display. The visitors had a try in the 25th minute disallowed when referee Nick Briant asked TMO Marius Jonker to check an incident for foul play. Video replays showed lock Tomás Lavanini charging into a ruck and connecting Schalk Oelofse on the chin. Briant had no choice but to send Lavanini off.
The Jaguares did well to keep the Kings in check thereafter, and Nicolás Sánchez booted the visitors into a 6-3 lead. In the 37th minute, however, one of their players suffered another brain explosion.
Prop Ramiro Herrera went in hard and low on Kings captain Steven Sykes with his shoulder. Sykes was hit on the back of the head, and again, Briant was forced to red-card the Jaguares player.
Suddenly the Kings had a great opportunity. They had a dangerous Jaguares side reduced to 13 men for as many as 43 minutes. The game was theirs to lose.
But the Kings battled to make their numerical advantage count. Wandile Mjekevu knocked the ball on with the tryline at his mercy. On the stroke of half-time, Edgar Marutlulle was held up right on the line.
Right after the break, the Jaguares extended their lead. The Kings made a series of errors, and impeded at the breakdown. Sánchez made the hosts pay by nailing three penalty goals in succession.
After 55 minutes, the Jaguares enjoyed a significant nine-point lead. Their fitness of the 13-man side was always going to be put to the test during this period, though.
The Kings finally breached the visitors' defence in the 59th minute. Schalk Ferreira charged down an attempted clearance by Martín Landajo, and scored a much needed try for his side.
Just when it appeared as if the Kings might be taking control of the contest, they conceded a try at the other end of the field. The visitors controlled possession smartly, and Facunda Isa crashed over from close range. Sánchez added the extras to stretch the lead to 12 points.
There was another twist in this bizarre match when Tomás Lezana was yellow-carded in the 70th minute for a cynical infringement. The Kings opted to set a scrum, and when the Jaguares collapsed the set piece intentionally, the referee awarded the hosts a penalty try. Fouché's conversion reduced the deficit to five points.
Dewald Human scored the hosts' third try a minute in the 73rd minute to level the scores. Fouché then nailed a difficult conversion to edge his team into the lead.
The Jaguares defence began to miss routine tackles in the dying minutes, and the Kings started to exploit the extra space out wide. Mjekevu scored in the 77th minute to clinch the game as well as the try-scoring bonus point for the hosts.
Kings – Tries: Schalk Ferreira, penalty try, Dewald Human, Wandile Mjekevu. Conversions: Louis Fouché (3). Penalty: Fouché.
Jaguares – Try: Facunda Isa. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalties: Sánchez (5).
Kings – 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Dewald Human, 23 JP du Plessis.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Segundo Tuculet, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images