Casual Cheetahs too good for Kings
The final scoreline, 29-20, may suggest that the Kings gave the Cheetahs a run for their money.,
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Cheetahs dominated all aspects of forward play and it was only their lack of intensity – with the game nothing but a training run for the team from Bloemfontein – gifting the Kings heaps of opportunities, from which they managed to score just two tries.
For the Cheetahs it was three wins out of three over the Kings.
After two convincing wins over their compatriots in January, this was a much tighter affair, but once Francois Venter crossed for the fourth try, they were guaranteed a place in the post-season.
They will be on the road in the quarterfinals, after extending their first season in the Pro14 by at least one more match.
The Cheetahs started strongly and led after just three minutes thanks to a Niel Marais penalty as the Kings struggled to deal with their quick ball.
The visitors looked really dangerous but just as it seemed they might get the first score, the home side countered from deep.
Taking advantage of a loose ball in midfield, Jacques Nel got them on the front foot with a bursting run. He then nudged the ball on with the boot and some clever hands put Ntabeni Dukisa over. Masixole Banda converted to make it 7-3.
The Kings enjoyed a period of territory, stretching their lead with a further penalty from Banda before the Cheetahs scored their first try.
It came from flanker Paul Schoeman, who showed his power after a rolling maul to twist over. Marais converted to level the scores.
Banda responded with a second penalty to put the home side back in front but just before the half-hour Marais scored himself, ignoring an overlap out wide to slice through.
And right on the stroke of half-time they moved into a commanding lead with a dominant scrum that allowed Uzair Cassiem to cross for the third Cheetahs try. Marais converted to make it 22-13 at the break.
The Kings needed to start the second period quickly and that is exactly what they did as Harlon Klaasen ran a great line to round Venter and dot down three minutes into the half.
Leading by just two, the Cheetahs fought back once again, and after taking a quick tap 15 metres out, Clayton Blommetjies broke through before a delightful offload to Venter for the fourth try.
That wrapped up the bonus point and clinched a spot in the Pro14 Final Series.
The excitement continued as the Kings pushed for a third try and a losing bonus point, while the Cheetahs almost ran in a fifth in the final minutes but in the end they had to settle for the maximum points.
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Dukisa, Klaasen
Cons: Banda 2
Pens: Banda 2
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Schoeman, Marais, Cassiem, Venter
Cons: Marais 3
Southern Kings: 15 Yaw Penxe, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Ntabeni Dukisa, 11 Harlon Klaasen, 10 Masixole Banda, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Dries van Schalkwyk, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Justin Forwood.
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 21 Lusanda Badiyana, 22 Jean-Pierre Smith, 23 Juan-Claude Roos.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Charl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lloyd Greeff.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman and Rodney Bonaparte
TMO: Johan Greeff