The Southern Kings recorded their biggest Super Rugby victory after they beat the Rebels 44-3 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and made it back-to-back wins against Australian opposition.
This game was more graft than craft, with only Wandile Mjekevu’s first-half try and the boot of Lionel Cronje, separating the teams at the break.
Reece Hodge’s 28th-minute penalty was all the Rebels could muster as they were shut out for the second week in succession.
But, it burst into life early in the second half when the home team scored five tries and 33 unanswered points, to earn a bonus-point win, and leapfrog the Bulls in the South African standings.
The Kings had returned from Sydney with their tails up and a bit of confidence after their shock win over the Waratahs last weekend.
Cronje’s fifth-minute penalty and Mjekevu’s try gave the hosts an opening quarter 8-0 lead. The game was not as free-flowing as the final scoreline made it look.
Both sides attacked the wide channels, trying to drag each other around the park, looking for that little gap.
Andisa Ntsila found these gaps at will. The No 8 and his tight-five were immense at the breakdown and pretty good around the loose too.
Somehow, the scores remained unchanged until Hodge’s penalty, late in the half, reduced the Kings’ lead to five. That was all the Rebels could muster.
Cronje cancelled out the fullback’s three-pointer as the teams went into the change rooms at 11-3.
Whatever Deon Davids said to his side, it worked a treat. They came out firing and put the Rebels to the sword.
It all started with another break by Makazole Mapimpi. The winger burst into the Rebels’ half and bought time with a roll and place after being tackled on the 22.
Berton Klaasen’s support run kept the move going. He was tackled near the Rebels’ try-line, Martin Bezuidenhout picked up the ball at the back of the ruck and crashed over.
Cronje extended the lead to 18-3 after 44 minutes.
Tyler Paul was next to dot down. It came when Ben Volavola slipped as he attempted to collect a bouncing ball from a stray lineout.
Louis Schreuder gathered and sent the flanker away for an easy score. The try broke the Australian’s resistance and the flood-gates opened.
A breakout from the Kings’ own half was stopped short of the goal line when Masixole Banda was tackled.
The Kings recycled the ball quickly and sent it wide to Pieter-Steyn De Wet – on for Cronje. He sold a dummy, cut inside and scored under the posts. His conversion made it 30-3.
There was time Makazole Mapimpi to score his seventh try in eight games for the Kings, and fullback Masixole Banda, to add to the Aussies’ misery. Wow.
Final score: Kings 44 (11) Rebels 3 (3)
Tries – Mjekevu, Bezuidenhout, Paul, De Wet, Mapimpi, Banda
Pen – Cronje (2)
Con – Cronje, De Wet (3)
Pen – Hodge
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 2: Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Christie du Preez
15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Justin Forwood.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Stefaan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Fereti Sa’aga.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Will Miller, 21 Hugh Sinclair, 22 Mick Snowden, 23 Jackson Garden-Bachop.