PLAYING a running brand of rugby in which they initiated moves from deep within their own territory, the Southern Kings gave an early indication of their attacking capabilities despite losing 36-21 to the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby warm-up game at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The Cheetahs took the lead for the first time with 14 minutes left on the clock as the visitors were made to sweat in front of 6,000 fans against a fired-up Kings outfit who led 21-12 at the break.
Asked about the attacking approach that was adopted by his team, Kings caretaker coach Robbie Kempson said: “We have given them free licence if the options are on and if there is space and a mismatch between the forwards and backs.
“If that is the case, they can have a full crack and we gave them that licence. But it is not to try and impress the crowd or because it is meant to be a festival game. That is ultimately the way we are going to be playing from now on.”
The Kings were rewarded for their enterprise with three tries as their jet-heeled fullback Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi (two) and centre Ronnie Cooke crossed.
“The manner in which we tried to implement the game plan right from the outset was clear and evident for everyone to see.
“Obviously the result did not go our way, but for the rest we have got something to work on and we can’t be upset about that,” Kempson said.
“The team showed ambition and all the guys that played put their hands up, from the youngsters right through to the older guys. It was good to see captain Darron Nell and Steven Sykes getting stuck in and Ronnie Cooke putting his body on the line.”
Kempson says his team have no injury worries to consider ahead of a visit by the Lions on Saturday for another Super Rugby friendly which kicks off at 5pm at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“The doctor tells me there are no major injury problems at the moment. Ronnie Cooke got a bit of a bump on his hip and that is why he came off.
“You have got to give the young guys a crack, otherwise you will never see how they can cope under that sort of pressure.
“Hats off to the Cheetahs for the way they came out in the second half and starved of us possession and of territory.
“That is the mark of a quality side and make no mistake, they have got quality players which puts into context just how well our guys played.
“When the Cheetahs wanted to put the screws on, they managed to and that is the mark of a quality side,” Kempson said.
Kings skipper Darron Nell said there was “no lack of effort” from his team.
“It was a great effort from the boys in our first real hit out against full opponents and it was an unbelievable effort,” Nell said.
“But I think that there is work to do. Our lineout did not function exactly like we wanted it to. It was not bad, but is was not great.
“So we can come back in our next game and put a good performance together.
“The team gave everything and that is the one thing about the Kings, that there is never a lack of effort and the guys are proud to wear the jersey.
“I am happy about that and it excites me,” Nell said.
Cheetahs: 36: Tries: Jean Cook (2), Boom Prinsloo (2), Adriaan Strauss, Raymond Rhule. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2), Johan Goosen (1).
Southern Kings 21: Tries: Shakes Soyizwapi (2), Ronnie Cooke. Conversions: George Whitehead (3).