Referee does Kings no favours as Lions win promo play-off
GAVIN RICH EVERY team accepts that sometimes you get the rub of the green and sometimes you don’t, but when it goes against you in a promotion-relegation game, it seems particularly cruel.
So it was easy to feel sorry for the Southern Kings last night as they lost 19-26 to the Lions. First they conceded an intercept try, and then later in the game they profited from two mistakes in quick succession from referee Jaco Peyper.
Let’s talk about the second try first. Two minutes before the Lions scored through Stokkies Hanekom to take a telling 12-point lead, the Kings had been on the attack, about three metres from the Lions’ tryline, when the ball was shovelled back from a loose scrum and dotted down by the Lions.
However Peyper ruled that it had been kicked forward by the Kings, which the replay showed quite clearly that it hadn’t been. If Peyper hadn’t taken the sensible route of checking the replay, he would have awarded the Kings a five-metre scrum instead of letting the Lions escape with a 22-metre drop-out.
And from that drop-out the Lions played their way into the Kings territory, where they did well to poach the ball from the Kings lineout. A pass from Elton Jantjies through the tackle put Hanekom on for what was his second try, but on the evidence that pass looked palpably forward.
Again, Peyper did not check the replay.
The Kings fought back with a try to Steven Sykes off a driving maul to make it a close game in the last 11 minutes but the Lions held on for the win.
Overall the Kings only had themselves to blame for lacking composure for much of the 80 minutes of the game and conceding way too many penalties through indiscipline, but it was still an injustice that they should lose out to refereeing mistakes.
The intercept try also cost them dearly, as it came at a crucial juncture. The hosts were leading 14- 12 three minutes before the break and were dominating the territory battle. And they were building up another attack as they sought the points that would give them a comfortable buffer.
But as they built up to the left, Hanekom pounced on a pass well inside his own half and ran two- thirds of the length of the field to score near the posts. What had looked like being a Kings advantage was suddenly a five-point deficit.
The score, so close to the break, proved a game-changer, as the Lions were much stronger in the second half.
The Kings started off showing massive physical intent as Wimpie van der Walt put in a huge tackle from the kick-off that dispossessed the Lions, and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis kicked the points to make it 3-0 after just two minutes. Thereafter though there was a slew of penalties conceded, and after 17 minutes Jantjies had kicked four penalties to make it 12-6.
Catrakilis then set up a try to Marcello Sampson with a cross-kick and that took the Kings back into the lead, but sadly for them it all went awry after the intercept.
The Kings pick up a bonus point which could prove significant if they win by more than seven next week as the team that plays in Super Rugby next year will be the one that picks up the most log points over the two fixtures.
ON THE MOVE: Elton Jantjies of the Lions offloads during the promotion/relegation match last night in Port Elizabeth.