South­ern Kings put Bulls down

Vis­i­tors take wind out of op­po­nents’ sails as they head for em­phatic win at Lof­tus Vers­feld

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

They may be headed for north­ern hemi­sphere climes next sea­son, but the South­ern Kings – of­fi­cially axed from Su­per Rugby as of next year – proved beyond doubt that they be­long at this level with a nail-biter against the Bulls last night. Com­ing back from their tight vic­tory against the Jaguares last weekend, Deon Davids’ men over­came two yel­low cards to beat only their sec­ond South African team in the tour­na­ment to get to a his­toric six wins from their 14 games this sea­son.

The vis­i­tors’ hero was cap­tain Lionel Cronjé, who not only man­aged the game well, but also scored 21 of his side’s points via a try, two con­ver­sions, three penal­ties and a dropped goal.

In light of the his­tory be­tween the two teams, the half­time score may have sur­prised many, but ev­ery one of the 12 points they had were de­served. Dur­ing that event­ful half, which saw both sides have a try dis­al­lowed and con­cede a yel­low card, the Kings dom­i­nated the ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion sta­tis­tics.

The vis­i­tors looked ev­ery bit the bet­ter and smarter team, es­pe­cially in pos­ses­sion. They were pa­tient and un­pre­dictable with ball in hand, know­ing when to take it into con­tact and when to shift it away.

When they fi­nally did score a le­git­i­mate try – through winger Maka­zole Mapimpi, who rounded off for his 10th try in 14 matches in his de­but Su­per Rugby sea­son – it was from al­most 10 phases and a build-up that in­cluded tight head prop Ross Gelden­huys throw­ing a pass be­hind his back.

Not that the Kings were all flash in open spa­ces – the Bulls hardly got a shoul­der at will in the scrums and the vis­i­tors’ line-outs were var­ied – from hit­ting the man in the vac­uum at the back of the line-out to avoid­ing the con­test with stand­ing or quick takes.

Af­ter im­pres­sively de­mol­ish­ing the Sharks away last weekend, the Bulls may have been for­given for think­ing they’d fi­nally show their Lof­tus faith­ful who they were. But their re­turn home was un­der­mined by a first half in which they had no real as­cen­dancy in any of the mean­ing­ful stats.

Their dis­ci­pline was also a prob­lem as lock Ja­son Jenk­ins’ sin-bin – which cost them 12 points – for a high hit on Kings fly half Cronjé when the Bulls had scored what should have been their first try of the match.

And when they did get their hands on the ball, their passes went astray and they coughed up the ball in con­tact.

The way back was plot­ted by the un­likely fig­ure of lock for­ward RG Sny­man track­ing down a try line-bound Mapimpi and an­kle-tap­ping him in what would end up with Jenk­ins mak­ing amends by scor­ing af­ter the hooter had gone.

Once War­rick Ge­lant and Dun­can Matthews en­gi­neered a try – which was all skil­ful body swerves and in­tel­li­gent run­ning – two min­utes af­ter half-time by the lat­ter, it ap­peared the come­back was truly on.

But the Kings, thanks to Cronjé’s quick-think­ing, kept the vis­i­tors within sight and fin­ished the game with the last two penal­ties his side was awarded.

PHOTO: GAVIN BARKER / BACKPAGEPIX

HIGH UP Ru­dolph Sny­man of the Bulls wins ball in line-out from Lubabalo Mtyanda of the Kings dur­ing their Su­per Rugby match at Lof­tus yes­ter­day

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