The Brumbies scored two late second-half tries as they came back from behind to beat the Kings 10-19 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
This was only the Brumbies’ fourth win of the season and first against non-Australian opposition, as they ground out the win on the South African east coast.
The Canberra side scored 19 unanswered points after the Kings sped to an early 10-0 lead, inside the opening quarter, after being awarded a fourth-minute penalty try and a Lionel Cronje penalty.
However, that was all they could muster as the Aussies cut the deficit to five points after Ross Geldenhuys was yellow-carded in the 21st minute.
The Brumbies had periods of sustained possession inside their opponent’s half, but poor handling kept hampering their attacks.
It was only late in the second period, as the Kings tired and the Aussies went up a gear, scoring twice in seven minutes through Aiden Toua and Tom Banks, that the game was settled.
This was a chance for Deon Davids’ team to extend their three-match unbeaten run against a poor Brumbies at home.
During the build-up to the game, Davids said: “We have been looking at our execution and where opportunities may be against the Brumbies.
“We will have to work very hard to get over that advantage line, to maintain momentum and to hold on to the ball.”
His side did neither, kicking away possession and taking the wrong option when not scoring, looked harder than scoring. They were abject with the ball in hand.
Cronje, the standout player, along with Andisa Ntsila, Makazole Mapimpi and Geldenhuys, all went missing. The flyhalf was guilty of twice, botching second-half scoring opportunities.
With the Kings leading 10-5, after the hour, Cronje took crash-ball when he should have passed twice for an almost certain try.
He then kicked away a poor cross-kick when the pass was the better option.
The PE men got off to the perfect start when they were awarded a penalty try. Banks deliberately knocked the ball out of Mapimpi’s hands as he went to score and after consulting the TMO, Jaco Peyper awarded the try.
Cronje kicked a 17th-minute penalty to extend his side’s lead. That was as good as it got. From then on, the South Africans became sloppy and could not get out of their own half.
They never scored again, and on several occasions, they opted to kick to touch, when taking the points, was the right call.
The Brumbies, however, grew into the game. Allan Alaalatoa was immense, carrying with intent and busting through the gain-line.
After Geldenhuys was sin-binned for collapsing the Brumbies’ driving maul, Josh Mann-Rea crashed over. The Aussies had spent three driving maul, lineout, penalty, phases before scoring.
The Kings struggled to stop the opposition’s drive, eventually, conceding a soft try. That was all for the first 40 minutes.
The game carried on where it had left off; the Brumbies with all the possession, camped inside the Kings’ 22. Somehow, the home team survived.
They started to get their groove back but could break the ACT side’s stubborn resistance. Joe Powell, despite his many mistakes, kept plugging away, the link between the pack and the backs.
On 64 minutes, the game changed, with that, went the host’s momentum as they gave away two tries. It was the home team who were the architects of their own downfall.
The first, after the Kings, took a quick lineout, but the pass was intercepted by Chris Alcock.
The ball was recycled quickly and Powell put in a wonderfully weighted grubber kick for Toua to chase. The fullback, playing left wing, beat the cover defender and scored.
Wharenui Hawera did not miss this time, kicking a sideline conversion to put his team in front by two points.
Banks dotted down soon after, chasing Tevita Kuridrani’s grubber kick. Hawera added the extras and the game was in the bag; burgled, but in the bag.
Final score: Kings 10 (10) Brumbies 19 (5)
Tries – Penalty Try
Pen – Cronje
Cards – Geldenhuys (Yellow, 21st-minute)
Tries – Mann-Rea, Toua, Banks
Con – Hawera (2)
Cards – Banks (Yellow, 5th-minute)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 2: Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Christie du Preez
15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Alshaun Bock, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Nicolaas Hanekom
15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Aidan Toua, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leulua’Iali’I-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Andrew Muirhead, 23 Andrew Smith