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ANALYSIS: Southern Kings not necessarily SA’s ‘worst’ following Lions encounter?

By Marc Jacobson - Mar 28, 2017
ANALYSIS: Southern Kings not necessarily SA’s ‘worst’ following Lions encounter?

Arguably, from what has been evidenced in the 2017 Super Rugby so far, it may deem to be true that the Southern Kings are not South Africa’s worst side for the prospect of this season’s campaign moving forward.

This comes after the Kings have rejuvenated some new-found hope after narrowly slumping to one SA powerhouse, the Sharks in Durban last week and grinding SA’s main hopefuls, the Lions close at stages – particularly in the second half, as they lost 42-19 at the NMB Stadium on Saturday.

The Bulls in particular are looking significantly out-of-sorts and impaired, with no structure, game plan, strategy or determination evidenced in all their matches so far, despite the kind of resources they possess and the quality of players they have at their disposal.

This dark cloud looming their unpromising way forward, follows the 38-14 thumping they received by the Blues on Saturday.

After all, all the talking is done on the field and not in the resources, and the Bulls quite frankly have been doing no walking of that talking at all – besides the off-field stakes of reiteration of ‘righting their wrongs’. For this, they only have the unconvincing and meek victory over the beleaguered Sunwolves in Pretoria two weekends ago to show for their grim efforts.

The Bulls, at their own costs, look like a team that is poorly coached, and possibly rightly so, as the players look seemingly clueless on the field-of-play, and in every game so far.

The Kings however, despite losing four of their five games so far, have looked much more clinical, motivated and determined in their approach towards sides with much bigger names than them.

Wearing their hearts on their sleeves on every outing, the Kings have never gone down without a fight and the Bulls in that regard, look fight less right from the kick-off in a fair amount of dispossession from their old selves.

The Kings on Saturday certainly did take it to the mighty Lions waving South Africa’s flag, and what makes it more fitting of their goals and tribulations as a collective, was that Head Coach Deon Davids was still critical of his side, even under the circumstances.

Undoubtedly, no side plays to lose, but against a Lions side filled with Springboks and a side who could possibly be one of the best in the competition, his charges certainly did play tenaciously against a much-superior opposition.

Most of all, at least, is that they seemingly impress more so than the Bulls so far, and on that note, one may also feel that the Kings can take the Cheetahs close too. Where the Kings may earn respect, is that they do little talking, and rather walk on the pitch – in attempts to rout in underestimation. It almost did work against the Sharks last week.

Where the Lions usually run riot in their expansive brand of play, is in the second half when they heed the ability to open defences up – but on Saturday, were unable to do so against the Kings.

Known for their long-range tries and streaking back-line play, the Lions scored five of their six match tries in the first half, with all five of those being short-ranged tries right on the Kings’ line, which included two mauling scores and one intercept.

This suggests that the Kings made the Lions dig deep and work hard for their upheaval on the field’s play, with no given try-taking from far out, such that the Port Elizabeth-based side progressively blocked out the Lions’ onslaught. In each retreat, the Lions then moved inch-by-inch forward up in territory, but it deems a sign that they were playing against a side that were very-much defensively challenging.   

The Kings with their two tries in the first half, were both scored from far out, one fortunate charge-down try and the other exemplary try scored from within their own half, when flanker, Andisa Ntsila made a fine break on the side channel, and was supported by two-fellow attackers which sent Yaw Penxe in for the try.

Again, in just the third minute of the second half, the Kings showed once more backline finesse, as they breached the Lions defence through the blistering Malcolm Jaer when they sent textbook passes down the line for the score.

Although being dominated in the set pieces and in possession (59%-41% to the Lions), the Kings managed to have the slight upper hand on territory, heading that statistic 54%-46%.

For that reason, the Kings managed to restrict the Lions to just one try in the second-half which only came on the 76th minute in a fine set-move from a line-out about 35-metres out. Meaning also, that the scores were just 7-7 in the second half outlook; in the period of the game where the Lions usually run riot, so credit must be given to the Kings were due.

That set-piece try on the 76th minute though, practically-speaking, set the tone for the dominance that the Lions exercised in some fixed procedures of the game. The Lions won 20 line-outs in the game and only lost two, while the Kings won 11 and lost three.

In mauls, mainly formed from line-outs, the Lions won six and the Kings two, and while the rucks and scrums were relatively evenly contested, the superior dominance in one set-piece proved costly against the Kings on the day.

Undeniably, the score could be a little flattering against the Kings, or even arguably the other way round, but the Kings will certainly look to break their winless streak against SA opposition in Super Rugby, which is currently on 18 losses in a row, when they meet the bewildered Bulls at Loftus Versveld on the 8th of July.

That is if, the Bulls by then do not ‘right their ever-growing wrongs’. 

Image: Man-of-the-Match Jaco Kriel on a blistering run against the Kings.