The Southern Kings claimed a shock 24-26 win over the Waratahs at Allianz Parkin Sydney, their seventh in Super Rugby since they debuted in 2013.
The South African franchise had one win this campaign yet, they found a way to claw back a three-try deficit, for a famous win.
The Kings were led to victory by Lionel Cronje – who had played for the Waratahs – and Chris Cloete. Both were instrumental, the foundation of the win.
The Eastern Cape franchise had previously beaten the Force and the Rebels, but with this scalp, they turn a two-pair into three-of-a-kind. Reds and Brumbies, beware.
The Waratahs took a 17-0 lead inside 35 first-half minutes but the Port Elizabeth men came back with four scores, including a penalty try, to down the hapless Tahs.
The hosts wilted in the second half as the Kings’ scrum and lineout set pieces dominated the day.
It is not unusual for a South African team to get an away win in Australasia, however, when you getting beaten at every turn, winning the third game on tour is.
Maybe the first or second but, after that, it is tough and teams are demoralised and just want to get back home.
The hosts opened the scoring in the 13th minute through Taqele Naiyaravoro. It came from Bernard Foley’s cross-field kick. Israel Folau beat Masixole Banda in the air and the wing gathered and dotted down in the corner
Israel Folau beat Masixole Banda in the air and the wing gathered the deflected ball and dotted down in the corner.
Cronje missed a penalty to reduce the gap and, instead of 5-3, it was 12-0 after Rob Horne doubled the Tahs’ lead.
Folau made a mini-break from his 22 to set the move in motion. The fullback charged downfield and popped inside to Foley, who offloaded to the supporting Horne.
The centre still had to beat the cover defence and, with a goose step à la David Campese, he did. Foley’s conversion extended the lead.
The Kings came straight back and after some pressure on the Waratahs’ goal line, they should have scored at least twice.
Some cynical play by the home team disrupted two try-scoring opportunities and they were lucky not to have a man in the bin.
Then calamity. the Kings rumbled the ball forward but were stopped on the line. Louis Schreuder sent a loose pass and Foley intercepted. Had he not, the numbers out wide would have led to a try.
Had he not, the numbers out wide would have led to a try. Foley passed to Cameron Clark, the sevens specialist had too much pace to be caught and sped away for his first Super Rugby try.
Nine out of ten times in Super Rugby, the team that has just conceded in that manner, crumbles. But, the visitors did not and two minutes’ later, they got their reward.
Justin Forwood busted through from close range to give his team some hope. It started with Foley’s charged down clearance.
The loose ball was gathered by the Kings and after two phases, Forwood barged over. Cronje’s touchline conversion made it a 10-point ball game going into the shed.
The Kings came out firing in the second period and reduced the deficit. Their scrum had started to unsettle their opponents and, from this set piece platform, they took control.Cronje, through which all the Kings’ tries are created, drifted left and sent a long pass to Masixole Banda.
Cronje, through which all the Kings’ tries are created, drifted left and sent a long pass to Masixole Banda.
The fullback collected the pass, beat the defenders and dived in un-touched. Cronje’s radar was not accurate and the score remained 17-12 to the Tahs.
Cloete, who was immense at the breakdown, was yellow-carded for a high tackle. The Waratahs could not make their extra man count and the Kings kept them scoreless, while the flank served his time.
Then, on 67 minutes, the visitors struck. Not only was their scrum dominant but, by now, their lineout maul had become a weapon. Every penalty was kicked to touch.
From the lineout, the Kings set up their rolling maul and rumbled forward. Michael Willemse finished the powerful drive with a game-levelling try.
The Waratahs’ forwards were obliterated at the set piece; Cronje’s second conversion put the Kings ahead for the first time in the match – a lead they would not relinquish.
The hosts were reeling and soon imploded. Another big scrum on the Tahs’ try line was repelled but, another infringement would be penalised.
At the second time of asking, the Kings forwards sent the Blue pack backwards and the scrum disintegrated. Penalty try and game over.
Naiyaravoro’s late score, after the hooter, was meaningless and the visitors held on for a memorable victory, their first against their illustrious opponents.
Final score: Waratahs 24 (17) Southern Kings 26 (7)
Tries – Naiyaravoro (2), Horne, Clark
Con – Foley (2)
Tries – Forwood, Banda, Willemse, Penalty try
Con – Cronje (2)
Cards – Cloete (Yellow, 52nd minute)
Referee: Rohann Hoffmann
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: James Leckie
TMO: Ian Smith
15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David McDuling, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Angus Ta’avao, 18 David Lolohea, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Harry Jones.
15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Justin Forwood
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Ruaan Lerm/Martin Bezuidenhout, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.