The Southern Kings took part in a Sunday Super Rugby match on South African soil for the first time in over ten years when they took on the Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. The Sunday afternoon fixture kicked off at 14:30 in cool autumn conditions.
The Kings were looking to find their winning form yet again, after their last minute 10-19 defeat against the Brumbies the previous week. The Kings went into the clash without talismanic captain and kicker, Lionel Cronje, which would prove to make the challenge even greater for the visitors.
The Kings’ discipline cost them early in the match as Irne Herbst saw yellow for an early shove at a lineout maul. The Lions took full advantage of their numbers at the lineout, as Andries Ferreira crashed over the line in a driving maul. Elton Jantjies’ conversion attempt bounced off the upright, missing the extras.
The Lions continued to show their attacking prowess, as a well-weighted cross kick was gathered by captain Warren Whiteley, who offloaded to the speedster Courtnall Skosan who ran in under the posts. Jantjies converted successfully, and the hosts went out to a 12-0 lead.
The Kings showed their intent midway through the first half, as they turned down an easy shot at a penalty in favour of a lineout. The home side’s defence stayed strong, however, ultimately giving the Kings another penalty, which Pieter-Steyn de Wet converted. The visitors now trailed by 12-3 with eleven minutes to play in the first half.
Play was halted on the 30 minute mark, after displays of terrible discipline from both teams. Chris Cloete from the Kings received a yellow card for taking a player out without the ball, before charging into a ruck with a shoulder to the head. Robbie Coetzee from the Lions retaliated by kneeing Cloete in the head, receiving a red card.
As the clock ran into the 40th minute, Ntabeni Dukisa intercepted the ball on the King’s five meter line, before being chased down by Courtnall Skosan on the Lions’ 10 meter line. The ball was turned over, ultimately landing in the hands of Kwagga Smith, who broke the line on the halfway and ran in under the posts for the Lions. Jantjies slotted the conversion. The first half ended 19-3 in favour of the home side.
As the second half started, the Kings failed to clear their lines from the kickoff, spilling the ball into touch just inside their own 22. Malcolm Marx took advantage of the poor decision-making, driving over the line from a maul for the try. Jantjies converted, taking the hosts further in front to a 26-3 lead.
The Lions continued their dominance as Kwagga Smith turned the ball over in the tackle after a miss through from Marx. Smith broke through the line, offloading to Ruan Dreyer, who eventually sent Jacques van Rooyen over the line under the poles. Jantjies extended the hosts’ lead to 33-3.
The Kings kicked the ball deep from the restart, which was fielded by Ruan Combrinck, who decided to run the ball out of his 22m. Malcom Marx made a break up the touchline, which resulted in Smith scoring his second try in the corner. Jantjies converted from the sideline, taking the score to 40-3.
The first try of the day for the visitors came in the 59th minute, as Luzuko Vulindlu intercepted a pass from Elton Jantijies to score under the posts. De Wet converted with ease, closing the gap to 40-10.
The Lions summed up their performance with a brilliant team try that started with a break from replacement prop, Corne Fourie, and was finished off by Faf de Klerk. Andries Coetzee slotted the easy conversion. They were not finished yet, as in the final minute, Coetzee broke away from deep inside his own half to score and convert his own try.
The match ended with the Lions romping home to a 54-10 win over the visiting Kings, despite being reduced to 14 men for the majority of the match.
Tries: Andries Ferreira, Courtnall Skosan, Kwagga Smith x2, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen, Faf de Klerk, Andries Coetzee
Conversions: Elton Jantjies x5, Andries Coetzee x2
Red Cards: Robbie Coetzee
Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu
Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet
Penalties: Pieter-Steyn de Wet
Yellow Cards: Irne Herbst, Chris Cloete