Kings break their Aussie duck
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Southern Kings won their first match on their Australian tour, when they beat the Waratahs 26-24 in Sydney on Friday.
It was only their second-ever win on Australian soil - having beaten the Rebels in Melbourne back in 2013.
Having lost to the Western Force and Reds in their first tour matches, this win not only broke their tour duck, it also made amends for the horror show that was their 10-72 loss to the Waratahs back in 2013.
The endangered Kings rose above the turmoil of their very Super Rugby existence with a spirited performance.
The Port Elizabeth-based Kings, who are fighting to stay in next year's competition, fought back from 0-17 down to win only their fourth game in two years.
The Kings, who could be consigned to the scrapheap in 2018 as part of SANZAAR's restructuring, trailed 7-17 at half-time, but scored the next 19 points before the woeful Waratahs scored a last-minute converted consolation try to claim a losing bonus point.
It was a sterling effort from the Kings and a performance that was hailed by their captain and flyhalf Lionel Cronje.
"It has been an absolutely emotional tour for us with all the news regarding Super Rugby," Cronje said.
"There has been a lot of pressure on our administrators, our families at home and you can imagine all the pressure on our players hearing all the news being away from home.
"It's amazing to be able to pull a game through like this and to get a victory against the Waratahs who have been Super Rugby champions.
"It just gives so much credit to our team and the management for fighting through a good game and to come away with the win."
The Kings, despite the huge off-field distractions, have been competitive on their Australian tour, losing 46-41 to Western Force and 47-34 to the Queensland Reds and this time they claimed their biggest scalp.
The South African strugglers reversed a record 72-10 loss to the Waratahs in their only previous meeting in Port Elizabeth four years ago.
The Waratahs looked on track for a much-needed bonus-point win after opening up a 17-0 lead with three first-half tries before the Kings hit back with tries to Justin Forwood, Masixole Banda and Michael Willemse.
But the Kings clinched victory with a penalty try awarded after a succession of scrum binding errors in the final minutes.
The Waratahs grabbed an after-the-siren bonus point with a consolation try to wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, who opened the scoring with the first try of the match.
Captain Michael Hooper was scathing about his team's dreadful showing before their home fans.
"It was a pretty embarrassing performance from us," he said.
"There was a lot of talk, not much action. It's going to be a tough weekend."
The sorry defeat leaves the Waratahs languishing eight points adrift of the Brumbies on the Australian conference standings.
The Kings now return home with their next game against the Melbourne Rebels in Port Elizabeth on April 30, while the Waratahs have an Australian derby against the Reds in Brisbane on April 29.
Man of the match: Bernard Foley again showed his value to the Waratahs, but our award goes to Southern Kings flank Chris Cloete - the most productive player on the field by some distance.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Naiyaravoro 2, Horne, Clark
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Forwood, Banda, Willemse, Penalty try
Cons: Cronje 2, Penalty tries don't require conversions
Yellow cards: Ned Hanigan (Waratahs, 32 - repeated offences, kicking the ball out of the ruck), Chris Cloete (Southern Kings, 53 - foul play, high tackle)
Waratahs: 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.
Southern Kings: 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 Martin Bezuidenhout, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)