Cheetahs pip Kings at the death
PRO14 REPORT: Rhyno Smith broke Southern Kings hearts in Port Elizabeth with two late tries that sealed a captivating 31-30 comeback victory in the South African derby.
The Kings came within minutes of a first-ever win over their rivals, but leading 30-17 with six minutes left to play Smith stepped up with two stunning scores.
Ruan Pienaar also showed his experience by slotting a conversion at the end to seal the win.
The Kings looked up for this one right from the off in front of the home support and opened the scoring on just three minutes as Bader Pretorius knocked over a penalty.
Minutes later and Pretorius was at it again but this time with a try, the flyhalf diving over before easily converting in front of the posts.
The hosts continued to dominate and increased their lead to 13-0 with another penalty just before the half-hour, but crucially missed another and allowed the Cheetahs to get on the board as lock Sintu Manjezi powered over.
The lead was 13-5 at the break and soon became 20-5 on the restart as Stefan Ungerer intercepted from Tian Schoeman and sprinted into the corner.
This finally woke the Cheetahs up and they forced their way back upfield for Manjezi to dive over once more, the lead now cut to 20-12 and the influential Ruan Pienaar on for the visitors.
The pendulum, however, swung back the other way as Ungerer sent over a speculative chip-kick towards the posts and JT Jackson capitalised on defensive indecisiveness to collect and dive over.
At 12-27 down and heading towards the final quarter the Cheetahs knew a response had to come, and find it they did as replacement Wilmar Arnoldi peeled off a drive to touch down from close range.
But Robbi Kempson’s men continued to thwart the Cheetahs at every opportunity, Bobby de Wee forcing a knock-on with a diving tackle on 66 minutes and then Pretorius slotting a penalty on 71.
De Wee, off the bench, then made a crucial line-out steal on his five-metre line but the sting was still to come, Smith first with an outside break to strike on 75 minutes and then miraculously collecting a crossfield kick with two attempts deep into the red.
Play of the Day
There were plenty to choose from in this one but we have to go with the Ungerer chip and Jackson try just for pure unpredictability.
There’s every chance that if that try wasn’t scored at that time the points would have gone the other way, and was both precise and unexpected enough to bamboozle the opposition defence.
Man of the Match
For such a spirited performance and coming agonisingly close to beating their rivals for the first time in seven Pro14 attempts, home forward Thembalani Boli picked up the man of the match award.
The openside was everywhere at the breakdown and won several crucial turnovers, while claiming a whopping 71 metres from just eight carries.
For Southern Kings:
Tries: Pretorius, Ungerer, Jackson
Cons: Pretorius 3
Pens: Pretorius 3
Tries: Majezi 2, Arnoldi, Smith 2
Cons: Schoeman, Pienaar 2
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 John-Thomas Jackson, 11 Erich Cronje, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer (captain), 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Ruaan Lerm, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Ignatius Prinsloo, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Lusanda Badiyana, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Courtney Winnaar, 23 Andell Loubser.
Cheetahs: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Chris Massyn, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Erich de Jager, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Aidon Davis; 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Chris Smit.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Divan Uys (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Greeff (South Africa)
Main photo: PRO14Official