CAPE TOWN – The Cheetahs are out of the Pro14 play-off race after they suffered a disappointing 35-17 defeat against the in-form Glasgow Warriors, while the Southern Kings went down 33-19 against Ulster.
The matches marked the last tour games for the teams, who now have a home stretch of three matches in South Africa, which will wrap up their 2018/19 campaigns.
The Freestaters entered their clash knowing that they needed to win all four of their remaining pool matches, preferably with bonus points, to have a shot at repeating their feat from last season of reaching the top six.
But the Warriors’ effective display was enough to secure them a bonus-point victory and keep them in the top spot on the Conference A log. The hosts produced a well-balanced performance in the first half and they did well to make a few vital line breaks, which allowed them to apply consistent pressure on the Cheetahs.
Ulster outscored the Southern Kings five tries to three, with their last try being scored while the visitors were down to 13 men after Tertius Kruger received a red card and Alandre van Rooyen a yellow card for dangerous tackles in the 67th minute.
Handling errors close to the tryline on three occasions also cost the men from the Eastern Cape possible tries, which could have resulted in a vastly different outcome.
The first half was thrilling as both teams played high-tempo rugby and showed patience on attack, which saw an exciting five tries being scored.
Ulster struck first in the seventh minute thanks to a powerful dash by Stuart McCloskey on the outside, and Rob Lyttle added their second try in the 14th minute after gathering a well-timed pass out wide. This earned them an encouraging 14-0 lead.
The Southern Kings, however, fought back strongly with back-to-back tries by Yaw Penxe and Ulrich Beyers within five minutes thanks to their composure on attack and opportunism, which reduced their deficit to two points.
With four minutes left in the first half, Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee nudged Ulster into a 21-12 lead when he received the ball from a ruck and forced his way through the defence for their third try.
Ulster added their bonus-point try eight minutes into the second half compliments of Robert Balacoune, who used his raw pace to clear the tryline in the corner.
A spirited performance from @SouthernKingsSA wasn't enough as an efficient @UlsterRugby downed them 33-19 following brilliant performances from Michael Lowry and Rob Lyttle 👊 👍 #GuinnessPro14 #ULSvSOU pic.twitter.com/tqI6VxqRPC— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) March 23, 2019
But the Southern Kings hit back with a well-timed pick-and-go by Michael Willemse minutes later to trail 28-19.
The visitors, however, were dealt a double blow in the 67th minute as Kruger and Van Rooyen were sent to the sin-bin, and Ulster capitalised on this to score their fifth try from a rolling maul for the bonus-point 33-19 victory.
African News Agency (ANA)