Southern Kings make history against Sharks

Super Rugby

PORT ELIZABETH – The Southern Kings created Super Rugby history on Saturday night as they beat a South African team for the first time in a memorable 35-32 victory over the Sharks.

Pieter-Steyn de Wet scored a late try to hand the Kings four log points at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and the triumph was also revenge for the 19-17 first-round defeat in Durban in March.

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Lionel Cronjé dots down for the Kings despite the attention of Sharks fullback Rhyno Smith. Photo: Richard Huggard, BackpagePixKings wing Makazole Mapimpi keeps the Sharks defence busy at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Photo: Richard Huggard, BackpagePix

Against all expectations, the home side found a way to overcome the highly motivated Sharks on Saturday as they produced a powerful performance that was inspired by their fast-paced attack.

The Kings made the perfect start to proceedings when impressive flyhalf and captain Lionel Cronjé slotted a third-minute penalty after the Sharks had strayed offside on defence.

Two minutes later and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium crowd was well and truly buzzing as the Kings created a beautiful try that was finished off by Alshaun Bock, who was a late replacement for Wandile Mjekevu.

However, the Sharks managed to settle the nerves as they slowly built their way into the contest, and as the pressure was applied, so the Kings’ discipline let them down, with Pat Lambie slotting two penalties before the quarter-hour mark.

It signalled a clear momentum shift as the Sharks repeatedly turned to their powerful forwards to provide them with momentum, and they reaped due reward as big No 8 Daniel du Preez barged his way over to score in the 22nd minute.

That try and a superb conversion by Lambie suddenly sent the Sharks into a handy five-point lead, but that was reduced by three when Cronje stepped up to slot a drop goal just after half an hour.

The three-pointer was cancelled out when Sharks replacement pivot Garth April – with Lambie having left the field due to concussion – struck a brilliant 55-metre penalty soon after.

But it would be the Kings who had the final say of the half, which saw Bock produce a thrilling break to set up a crucial try for Cronjé.

Not only did that score send the hosts into a surprise 18-16 halftime lead, but Sharks fullback Rhyno Smith found himself in the sin-bin after committing a high tackle on Cronjé in the act of scoring.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Sharks as the Kings created a try straight from the restart, with Bock breaking away to dot down and suddenly send the hosts into a commanding 25-16 lead.

The Sharks responded by bringing on five replacements in the 48th minute, with the Durban-based side clearly looking to change the momentum of the contest.

Sharks captain Patrick Lambie left the field with concussion. Photo: Richard Huggard, BackpagePix

That intent ultimately led to repeated breakdown infringements from the Kings, with prop Ross Geldenhuys sent to the sin-bin.

From that indiscretion, April slotted a 55th-minute penalty to reduce the deficit to six points, while wing Lwazi Mvovo went over to score just before the hour mark.

An excellent conversion from April then put the Sharks into a one-point lead, but the Kings went almost straight back in front when Cronjé slotted a second penalty.

April then goaled two more three-pointers to put the Sharks 32-28 ahead with five minutes to play.

However, the Kings refused to give up, and completed an unforgettable result when replacement back De Wet was put away to score in the 78th minute.

For the Kings, it was a third win in a row, and one they won’t quickly forget.


Southern Kings 35 – Tries: Alshaun Bock (2), Lionel Cronjé, Pieter-Steyn de Wet. Conversions: Cronjé (3). Penalties: Cronjé (2). Drop goal: Cronjé (1).

Sharks 32 – Tries: Daniel du Preez, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Pat Lambie (1), Garth April (1). Penalties: Lambie (2), April (4).

African News Agency (ANA)

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