The Kings scored six tries in their convincing 44-3 win against the Rebels in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
While both teams may soon be discarded from Super Rugby, this seems to have galvanised the Kings. It is the first time that they have recorded back-to-back victories in this tournament, following their 26-24 win against the Waratahs in Sydney last weekend.
Credit will rightly go to the wonderful attacking interplay between the Kings’ forwards and backs. But their resistant defence should be lauded as well. The defensive pressure they applied forced the Rebels into making errors, laying the foundation for this triumph.
The Kings didn’t come through the 80 minutes without the odd error themselves, but their overall performance was far better than that of the visitors.
For all their possession, territorial dominance and excellent ball retention, the Rebels – especially the backs – were equally awful at grinding down the Kings’ defence and finishing off. The fact that they had to play the majority of the game with a makeshift scrumhalf didn’t help their cause. Captain Nic Stirzaker was ruled out just before kick-off, with Mick Snowden starting at No 9. But he too, was forced to leave the field in the 26th minute due to injury, with flanker Will Miller coming on as his replacement.
Lionel Cronjé opened the scoring for the hosts before Wandile Mjekevu rounded off a brilliant team try for an eight-point lead. Wing Makazole Mapimpi, who tormented the Rebels throughout the game, powered his way through four feeble tackle attempts and kept the ball alive with a flick pass out wide before Cronjé showed the presence of mind to nudge the ball through for Mjekevu to score.
There would be a penalty goal either way as the Kings took an 11-3 lead into the break, despite a dubious penalty against them on the stroke of half-time when Justin Forwood was pinged for a deliberate knock-on.
If the first half was one-sided, the second stanza was complete domination, and in fact humiliation, of the Rebels. Makazole and Andisa Ntsila wreaked havoc on attack, while Chris Cloete continued to be a menace at the breakdown to help the Kings score five more tries.
Hooker Martin Bezuidenhout, flank Paul Tyler and replacement flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet scored tries as a result of Makazole and Ntsila’s superb running, before the winger finally got in on the act himself.
No 15 Masixole Banda, who had been solid at the back, then placed the finishing touches on one of the Kings’ greatest performances, before the Rebels were put out of their misery by the full-time whistle.
Kings – Tries: Wandile Mjekevu, Martin Bezuidenhout, Tyler Paul, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Makazole Mapimpi, Masixole Banda. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé, De Wet (3). Penalties: Cronjé (2).
Rebels – Penalty: Reece Hodge.
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 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Justin Forwood.
Subs: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Schalk van der Merwe 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Stefaan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Mick Snowden, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a (c), 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Fereti Sa’aga.
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Jack Debreczeni, 22 Will Miller, 23 Jackson Garden-Bachop.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images