The Southern Kings suffered a 27-31 defeat by the Cardiff Blues in Port Elizabeth on Saturday to open their PRO14 account on a disappointing note.
In a thrilling affair at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, the new-look Kings became unstuck against a vastly experienced Blues side, with over 800 appearances within their match-day squad.
In his new role as interim coach, Robbi Kempson named six PRO14 debutants in the Kings starting lineup, with the home side getting off to a confident start thanks to an early penalty slotted by the returning Demetri Catrakilis.
The Blues responded almost immediately when Olly Robinson crashed over from a well-constructed driving maul, after successive penalties conceded by the home side.
Catrakilis popped over his second penalty before ill-discipline from the visitors on their own tryline had flyhalf Jarrod Evans sin-binned for an offside infringement.
After turning down several kickable penalties, the Kings persisted with the lineout maul and were eventually rewarded for their efforts when flank Tienie Burger crossed over for the host’s first try.
The Blues were then dealt another setback when captain Nick Williams received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, with the Kings taking a 13-5 lead into the break.
In what was most certainly a game of two halves, four second-half tries from Liam Belcher, Matthew Morgan, Kristian Dacey and Harri Millard sneaked the Blues past a spirited Kings side, whose discipline in the final quarter cost them the game.
Tries from Stefan Ungerer and Andell Loubser, along with 12
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