Kings show promise in loss against Hurricanes
The Southern Kings showed a marked improvement, as they went down 42-20 to the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby fixture in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday.
The score depicts a flattering margin for the Hurricanes, as the Kings stretched the New Zealanders until the 72nd minute, being within just eight points, but unable to tie the game down, as the home side polished the match off with two constellation tries.
In the opening minutes, the Hurricanes immediately made a statement by holding all the possession and territory. The men from Wellington heeded up 17 phases in the Kings red zone before scoring a well-worked try in just the sixth minute by inside centre, Ngani Laumape.
The conversion was missed and soon later the Kings slotted three points to take the scores within two.
The Hurricanes continued with their quick flow and fast distribution, eventually dispersing the Kings defensive line which then sent eighth-man, Blade Thompson, through a gap for a try in the 12th minute.
On the 25th minute, a poor return kick down the Hurricanes’ throat was capitalised when scrumhalf, TJ Perenara, took it up and distributed a questionable forward pass to hooker, Dan Coles. Coles then sucked in two defenders and offloaded the ball to Ardie Savea, who broke three tackles before blustering over the line for a try.
A possible forward pass had led to a try and it has to be questioned why the available technology is not being utilised when 50/50 calls are exposed. The officials may not have even seen the respective pass, but that is even poorer on their regard. It came at the expense of an underdog side trailing significantly before threatening with any built-up confidence.
Resultantly, it looked as though the Hurricanes were well in control with a 19-3 lead with many of the Kings’ faithful likely to have dropped their heads for the remaining prospects of the game.
However, the men from Port Elizabeth hit back when fly half, Louis Fouche, opened up a gap inside the opponents’ 22 and popped an inside pass to captain, Steven Sykes, for a try in the 30th minute.
On the brink of half-time, the Hurricanes were attacking on the half-way line, before former Grey High pupil, CJ Velleman, made an excellent steal at the breakdown to hand the Kings possession. The Hurricanes were then on the back-foot, as the Eastern Cape side capitalised and distributed quick ball, when centre, Shane Gates broke the line, sucked in three defenders and extended his arm for a polished offload to Fouche for a try under the posts.
The Kings made a threatening statement heading into half-time - taking the scores to 19-17 at the break just in favour of the Hurricanes.
The second half continued to sway even when penalties defined the points’ outcome as the match drew to a close. The Kings showed very good scramble defence at vital stages, preventing two tries – one when the ball was prevented from being grounded at the base of posts and the other when desperate defence on the flanks of the field forced a forward-inward pass to the attacking receiver.
It was after these incidents, that it became evident that the Kings were willing to play to the wire for an upset victory. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they managed to execute three penalties to the Kings one – taking the scores to 28-20 in favour of the New Zealanders with eight minutes to go.
The Wellington side then capitalised on a Kings’ error in the 73rd minute when they gathered a loose ball and broke away down the field when flanker, Vaea Fifita, desperately stayed in-field from a cover tackle. In the tackle motion, he then successfully offloaded the ball to replacement, Vince Aso, for a try in the corner.
The scores were 35-20 to the Hurricanes which, at the time, deemed to be the final result as the match concluded. The home side then capitalised on yet another loose error, this time from a Kings’ line-out, when fly half, Beauden Barrett, gathered the ball and sprinted in for a 60-metre try.
The home side flattered themselves with those last two tries, but both scores happened at the expense of unforced errors from the Kings. The conclusion proved yet again that basics need to be adhered to in order to contain the New Zealand brand of rugby, as at any time of the game they hold teams expendable.
The Southern Kings now play other newcomers, the Sunwolves from Japan, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at 18:05 next Saturday.
Tries- N. Laumape (6”), B. Thomson (13”), A. Savea (27”), V. Aso (73”), B. Barrett (80”).
Conversions- B.Barrett (4)
Penalty goals- B.Barrett (3)
Tries- S. Sykes (30”), L. Fouche (40”).
Conversions- L. Fouche (2)
Penalty goals- L. Fouche (2)
Image: Hurricanes players congratulate Ardie Savea after scoring his try.
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