The Southern Kings’ winless run in the PRO14 competition continued on Saturday after their 42-17 defeat by Ulster in Port Elizabeth.
Ulster rebounded from their first-ever defeat by South African opposition after last week’s drubbing at the hands of the high-flying Cheetahs, while it was a familiar pattern for Robbi Kempson’s men who yet again were unable to capitalise on opportunities created.
The Kings’ performances this season have shown a noteworthy improvement on their efforts during their last campaign, particularly among their forward pack, but they will again be ruing their missed chances.
After winning all four of their previous encounters against the Kings, the visitors got off to a blistering start after scrumhalf John Cooney converted his own try after just two minutes.
The tempo and offloading ability of the visitors proved too much for the Kings in a one-sided first half, with the hosts being forced to chase the game from as early as the end of the first quarter.
Ulster showed intent to run the ball from all parts of the field with further tries from Luke Marshall, Rob Herring and Matt Faddes securing the bonus point before the half-hour mark.
A powerful surge upfield from Marcell Coetzee, returning from injury after missing out on selection for the Springboks World Cup squad, helped Cooney go over for his brace after a well-timed assist from the Ulster eighthman.
Tertius Kruger’s try and five points from the boot of Demetri Catrakilis meant that Ulster took a 35-10 lead into the break.
Despite enjoying plenty of possession throughout the encounter, constant unforced errors from the Kings hindered their attack, with Ulster capitalising on the hosts’ mistakes on almost every occasion.
Converted tries for either side from Sean Reidy and Bobby de Wee were the only points scored in a scrappy second half at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Having lost three homes games on the trot, the Kings are next in action away to Benetton on 26 October.
Southern Kings – Tries: Tertius Kruger, Bobby de Wee. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis, JT Jackson. Penalty: Catrakilis (1).
Ulster – Tries: John Cooney (2), Luke Marshall, Rob Herring, Matt Faddes, Sean Reidy. Conversions: Cooney (6).
Southern Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Courtney Winnaar, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Lusanda Badiyana (c), 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 JC Astle, 20 Bobby de Wee, 21 Josh Allderman, 22 Sibusiso Sithole, 23 Elrigh Louw.
Ulster – 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Subs: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 James Hume.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images