Kings seal a solid win

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­press.co.za

The South­ern Kings con­tin­ued their quest to force SA Rugby to think a lit­tle out of the box when it comes to which two Su­per Rugby fran­chises they will dump next year thanks to a con­vinc­ing and well-de­served win over the Mel­bourne Rebels last night.

The East­ern Cape side, which seems to have been lib­er­ated by the news that they and the Chee­tahs could be the two fall teams when Su­per Rugby down­sizes next sea­son, were worth ev­ery bit of their bonus points vic­tory – the first time in their his­tory they have recorded back-to­back vic­to­ries.

The six tries to nil vic­tory was thanks largely to won­der­ful per­for­mances by re­ju­ve­nated scrum half Louis Schreuder, the in­dus­tri­ous and silky skilled num­ber eight Andisa Nt­sila, and the op­por­tunis­tic winger Maka­zole Mapimpi, who had a hand in two of the tries and scored one him­self.

As in all Kings af­fairs, both sides kept swap­ping turnovers, with Rebels cap­tain Colby Fainga’a for once fight­ing Chris Cloete’s fire at the break­down with an ac­com­plished open­side flank display of his own.

Fainga’a also found him­self deputis­ing at scrum half after the vis­i­tors were dis­rupted by the loss of scrum half Mick Snow­den, who was the only scrum half in the squad after Nic Stirza­ker pulled out of the game, to an an­kle in­jury in the 27th minute.

But the prob­lem with a turnover-based game is that it is ex­actly what the Kings want be­cause of the fire­power they have out wide.

That said, at first, there was a feel­ing that they were forc­ing things some­what from go­ing into the game as favourites for a change. Not that it stopped them from still scor­ing the first and only try in the first half, through right winger Wandile Mjekevu.

The ori­gins of the try were on the other wing with Mapimpi (who else?), who broke through three Rebels tack­les be­fore of­fload­ing, the re­cy­cled ball find­ing its way to fly half Lionel Cronje, who put in his by now cus­tom­ary try-scor­ing grub­ber for Mjekevu.

Mapimpi’s trans­for­ma­tion from fin­isher to cre­ator was com­plete in the sec­ond half with a snipe from the base of a ruck that ended up with hooker Martin Bezuiden­hout go­ing over.

Ear­lier in Bloem­fontein, the vis­it­ing Cru­saders, who came into the game the only un­beaten team in the com­pe­ti­tion, con­tin­ued on their merry way with a com­pre­hen­sive 48-21 over a game but ul­ti­mately out­classed Chee­tahs.

The seven-time cham­pi­ons con­firmed their claims to re­turn­ing to the win­ners’ cir­cle this year by putting seven tries past the hap­less Chee­tahs in a per­for­mance marked by clin­i­cal ex­e­cu­tion and a maze of off­loads.

Winger Ge­orge Bridge scored his sec­ond hat-trick against a South African side on suc­ces­sive week­ends, with full­back David Hav­ili emerg­ing the man of the match for mul­ti­ple raids from dis­tance, a slew of as­sists and two tries of his own.

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