South Africa’s Southern Kings bounced back from a
humiliating home defeat last weekend to secure a 34-27 victory
over the Highlanders in Port Elizabeth.
It was their first win over a New Zealand side a week after
they were thrashed 72-10 at home by the Waratahs.
That dismal performance lacked passion and brutally exposed
their inexperience in their maiden year of Super Rugby.
But Saturday’s victory – set up by outstanding loose-forward
play from Luke Watson, Wimpie van der Walt and Cornell du
Preez – was a complete turnaround. They were more physical,
better organised and showed greater precision with their
Two tries from Watson and further scores by Du Preez and
Shaun Venter gave the hosts a try-scoring bonus point, while
the Highlanders came away with two points after they also ran
in four tries via Colin Slade (two), Brad Thorn and Hosea
“We got absolutely pumped last week but it was still almost a
full house tonight so a lot of credit must go to the crowd,”
said Kings captain Watson.
“We showed a lot of character and courage. We haven’t got
much to lose. We had to take some risks and it paid off,”
After taking a 6-3 lead through the boot of flyhalf Demetri
Catrakilis, the Kings got the opening try after Watson
The Highlanders hit back with a great individual try of their
own, flyhalf Slade chipped the ball in behind the Kings
defence and collected it himself before diving over under the
The momentum was with the visitors at that point and when
Thorn barged over to score the Highlanders had the lead.
But they could not hold it into the break, with Watson
scoring his second try from a driving maul to give the Kings
a 20-17 advantage at halftime.
The home side took control of the game in the first 15
minutes of the second period with two more tries.
Good footwork from Catrakilis allowed Du Preez to go over in
the corner, with Tamati Ellison sin-binned for repeated
infringements in the lead-up to the try.
The bonus-point was won after a great piece of individual
skill from Kings hooker Bandise Maku, who broke free into the
Highlanders 22 and flicked the ball back as he was tackled
into the path of Venter.
That score put the home side 17 points ahead, but there were
some late jitters when Slade scored his second try and Hosea
Gear got a bonus-point for the visitors to close the gap to
The Highlanders had all the possession for the final five
minutes of the game, but could not complete the comeback.
“We played into their strengths by giving them penalties. It
is pretty frustrating but we have seven days to regroup
before we play the Bulls,” Highlanders captain Andrew Hore