#JustSaying – Ace Port Elizabeth Photographer, Michael Sheehan and I called it – a win for the Southern Kings at Loftus Versfeld.
After Round 18 in Super Rugby the Southern Kings have achieved the sweetest of ‘doubles’ – beating a South African Team in their home ground – the Bulls 31-30 at Loftus Versveld on Saturday 8 July – after securing their first win against a SA Team – the Sharks 35-32 – in Port Elizabeth on 13 May 2017.
This leaves the Bulls and Cheetahs to battle for bottom place in the South African leg of Super Rugby. Local supporters will be hoping for a humdinger of a game on 14 July when the Kings meet the Cheetahs at home in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. With both teams out of Super Rugby they will be determined to rub further salt into the wounds of SARU and the Bulls by ensuring that he Bulls finish bottom of the log.
The Kings victory over three-time former champions, the Bulls, places the Kings 11th in the overall standings, ahead of four Australian and two South African teams – Bulls and Cheetahs – plus the Japanese Sunwolves.
In a battle of the flyhalves, with Lionel Cronje looking to send a strong message to his former side that had denied him game time very often in his two seasons at Loftus, Cronje finished with a haul of 21 points versus Bulls Flyhalf, Tian Schoeman’s 12.
- Southern Kings 31 (22) – tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Cronje, Malcolm Jaer. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2), Penalties: Cronje (3). Drop goal: Cronje.
- Bulls 30 (3) – tries: Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Jaco Visagie. Conversions – Tian Schoeman (10). Penalties: Schoeman (2)
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Another one in the bag. On to the next one – the last one.
We take our sixth win home.
— Southern Kings (@SouthernKingsSA) July 8, 2017
At the end of this weekend the Southern Kings 27 tournament points puts them ahead of these teams in Super Rugby: Force, Reds, Waratahs, Rebels, Bulls, Cheetahs and Sunwolves.
It seems like yesterday when the coaching ‘saviour of EP Rugby’, Alan Solomons observed to the very few media covering local rugby at the time that the Southern Kings found themselves in the same position as what the Bulls had found themselves in four years earlier – big fat losers.
Solomons cited that local rugby needed a team of mainly local players that could exhibit pride and determination and that a little bit of money would also help. And, we nearly made it but management controversy and an EPRU aligning themselves too close to questionable players in local government scared off coach after coach until SARU stepped in and appointed Deon Davids to coach the Southern Kings as they re-entered Super Rugby for the second time in 2016’s expanded competition.
For the first time in a long time a team of ‘misfits’ whilst being the most representative had an opportunity to concentrate on their game whilst not battling egos and money woes.
Eastern Province Rugby has, for the last 30 years, been viewed as a breeding ground for excellent rugby players. The strange thing about this is that the other provinces and franchises don’t want to acknowledge that the home of this breeding ground can actually play rugby and beat some pretty decent teams to boot.
South African Rugby finds itself in a bit of a conundrum as if they kill rugby in this area they will kill rugby in South Africa – well, at least winning rugby.
- Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Burger Odendaal.
- Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Mzamo Majola. Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Yaw Penxe.
Let’s have a look at what others said after the Southern Kings historic win:
- City Press: “They may be headed for northern hemisphere climes next season, but the Southern Kings – officially axed from Super Rugby as of next year – proved beyond doubt that they belong at this level with a nail-biter against the Bulls on Saturday night.”
- SA Rugby Mag: “The Kings continued to play with the sort of pace, precision and ball handling ability that left the Bulls’ defence in disarray.”
- SA Rugby Mag: “A win for the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth plus a win for the Stormers in Pretoria next week would equal trouble for the Bulls. Those results would see the Bulls finishing the season as the worst-placed South African side.”
- Rugby 365: “The Kings may not attract the big money or spectators of the other franchises, but they have outperformed one of the big guns of South African rugby – the Bulls – just a day after their axing was confirmed. With reports that they will soon be playing in European competitions – like the Pro12/14 and Euro Challenge Cup – the Kings showed they can add value wherever they end up. That is if they are able to retain all the players. They have already lost the services of star loose forward Chris Cloete to Munster.”
- Supersport: ” Deon Davids has proved that with scraps he can make a team into something exceptional and certainly deserves to be noticed by those who make the appointments at higher levels.”
- Supersport: “In essence they [the Southern Kings] represent everything that is positive about South African rugby, showing that without almost everything the Bulls have in their favour – they matched them on every level and are set to end the season off on a high, even though they have little idea about where their futures lie.”
- Times Live: “A day after their Super Rugby execution, the Southern Kings came to Pretoria and gave SA Rugby the middle finger by ransacking whatever remained of the rancid Loftus Versfeld fortress with a well deserved sixth win of the season.”
- The Citizen: “South Africa’s discards keep their nerve at the death to beat the wayward Bulls, who still can’t justify their Super Rugby existence in 2017. SA Rugby may have booted the Southern Kings out of Super Rugby, but they will never kill their spirit, as the gutsy Eastern Cape side showed yet again when they beat the Bulls 31-30 in a thriller at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.”
- ENCA: “The Southern Kings showed that the decision to remove them from Super Rugby may have been the wrong one as they toppled the Bulls 31-30 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.”
- FireFlyTheTravelGuy: “The Southern Kings just beat the “mighty” Bulls. Take that SARU and Jurie Roux. You spineless twats.”
- Siphathi: “To be fair though the Bulls should have been axed from Super Rugby not Kings due to points… but nothing can be said or done now.”
- Kaunda Ntunja?: “I will never be apologetic about making a noise that there were 13 players of colour in the Kings side that beat the Bulls. It was historic.”
- Vuyo Zangqa?: “Thank you Loftus! Well done @SouthernKingsSA @MyPE #PE this is for you once again #EasternCapeRugby”
— Vuyo Zangqa (@vuyozangqa) July 8, 2017
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