The Scarlets overturned a 14-point deficit to claim a thrilling 41-34 bonus-point win against the Kings in Port Elizabeth. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
After a two-week break in competition, the Kings looked a completely different side from the one that took a 54-14 hammering against the same opposition a few weeks ago. As it turned out, the result still went against Kings despite a valiant effort.
The Scarlets will gladly take the win, but the fringe players who were given a start in the absence of their Test players did nothing to increase their chances of breaking into the 1st XV.
This was a strange game in that the Scarlets dominated possession and territory, but while the visitors probed well in the first half, they were never lethal enough to put the game to bed. It was only in the second half that they were able to convert opportunities into points and even that was a struggle against the gutsy Kings.
In a blistering start, the hosts scored two brilliant counter-attacking tries coupled with a penalty for a 17-3 lead after 22 minutes. Banda fielded a poor clearance kick and sliced through the defence to score the opening try. The fullback then came up with an assist for Yaw Penxe’s try, which originated from right on their own tryline.
The Kings’ stubborn defence eventually gave in as the Scarlets scored twice from the back of rolling mauls to go into the break trailing 20-15.
The Scarlets went into the lead for the first time shortly after the restart when 20-year-old Ioan Nicholas, their second youngest player ever, barged over.
But there was life in the Kings yet. They continued to hit the Scarlets on the counter with great results as centre Harlon Klaasen and Bjorn Basson finish off superb team tries to take a 34-22 lead.
However, with the clock winding down, the Scarlets increased the pressure and Kings crumbled. The visitors racked up 19 unanswered points, via three tries, including one from Werner Kruger, to sink the Kings.
There was a nervy finish right at the end as the Kings went in search of a converted try for a draw. And they got close with a driving maul, but when the Scarlets managed to collapse it the referee deemed it to have been done legally and thus ended the game.
Kings – Tries: Msixole Banda, Yaw Penxe, Harlon Klaasen, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Banda (4). Penalties: Banda (2).
Scarlets – Tries: Dafydd Hughes, Will Boyde, Ioan Nicholas, Werner Kruger, Kieran Hardy, Taylor Davies. Conversions: Dan Jones (4). Penalty: Jones.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Penxe Yaw, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Ruaan Lerm, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Alandré van Rooyen, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 Luphumlo Mguca, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Martinus Burger, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Meli Rokoua.
Scarlets – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Paul Asquith, 12 Steff Hughes (c), 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Will Boyde, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Subs: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Helps, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Morgan Williams, 23 Ed Kennedy.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images