Ricochet News

ANALYSIS: Southern Kings backline finesse continued to impress against Jaguares

By Marc Jacobson - Jul 4, 2017
ANALYSIS:  Southern Kings backline finesse continued to impress against Jaguares

The Southern Kings drudged to a 31-30 pipping over the Jaguares at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani in Buenos Aires in the early hours of Saturday morning (SA time); the first after a four week lay-off for both sides, due to the June international window.

One could argue though, that the national Argentinean side in the sheep-skinned Jaguares, were somewhat weathered down, due to that precise international window, with nine of the 15 Jaguares starting players having served Argentina in their two Tests against England and one against Georgia respectively.

Nonetheless, the Kings, without any Springbok representation whatsoever, should receive all the credentials for having beaten a disguised international outfit in their own backyard.

What the Kings excelled in, was their clinical interplay from the rucks into the backline, and on the fringes of breakdowns into space. This all exerted with much speed.

Both the Kings’ first two tries were set up by polished first phase play between the envisioned Louis Schreuder and the first receivers. The second try was adapted by expansive play, but was plat-formed through fringe space.

Ironically speaking, it was the backline players, who were utilised in those small spaces, a good strategy, seeming as though the backs have a smaller frame, but were faster. In those two cases, it worked to their favour. Centre, Luzuko Vulindlu scored the first (22nd minute) followed by Makazole Mapimpi’s expansive try just six minutes later.

The Kings then suddenly regressed after taking a 14-8 lead at that stage, but then conceding three unanswered tries in the overlap between the first and second half, as the Jaguares’ sharp finesse began capitalising against at times a deranged Kings’ defence.

It may have been likely that the Kings’ outside backs were sucked too much into the tight fringe play, that on defence, they were not able to hold their position.

All three of those consecutive Jaguares tries came from exploiting space behind the Kings defensive, while not scourging in great scramble defence lapses.

On top of that, the Kings’ backline conceded 13 of the team’s 19 turnovers, with the centre pairing of Berton Klassen and Vulindlu also missing nine tackles between them.

With the Jaguares leading 25-14, especially after a try scored in just the second minute of the second half, the Kings did regroup well, and scored the try of the match just 17 minutes later when once again, quick backline interplay from the halfway line with a total eight passes between players, sent Mapimpi in for his second try.

The Kings’ fourth and final try was then hoarded by Schreuder, trade-marked again by in-space fringe play, as the scrumhalf outspanned from a ruck, before offloading to the pacey Wandile Mjekevu in for a try.

The Jaguares again, then exploited space with a pin-point cross kick to capture fullback Joaquin Tuculet for a try in the corner, which took them to within a point behind, but with that conversion missed, it was to no avail as the home lost by a scrape.

The Jaguares missed four of their five conversions, and that deems costly at the final result.

However, with a total 454 running metres to the Jaguares’ 373, and 130 passes to their 107, that statistical feat proved the difference on the game, as the Kings knew what to execute, and when, in order to ascend to victory.

Mapimpi was particularly impressive, with besides his two tries, ran 77 go-forward metres, beating four defenders, making three clean breaks in a total eight runs.

Explosive eighth-man, Andile Ntsila was also industrious, through with his 14 ball carries, made 62 go-forward metres, along with 12 tackles made; the second most in the match, behind Tyler Paul’s 14.

Jaguares lock, Matias Alemanno was also particularly good on defence with 12 tackles, while centre Ezcurra Bautista was prominent on attack for the Argentineans, with 89 running metres, more than Mapimpi even.

The Kings would certainly reap their interplay execution from that match-up as a grand positive, before playing the confidence-boosted Bulls at Loftus in Pretoria this coming weekend.

They will then conclude their season with a return to Port Elizabeth, where they will play their last game against fellow likely Super Rugby cull, the Free State Cheetahs next weekend.

Image: Makazole Mapimpi outflanking the Jaguares' defence and scoring his first try.