Kings seal a solid win
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.