It is Sunday morning, I and fellow Southern Kings supporters are suffering from a King sized loser’s hangover (no Fanta Brown’s required to induce such a state) and I am kicking myself for not getting hold of Alan Solomons immediately I read these words on the Super Rugby site the morning of the Kings Bulls game; “The Southern Kings will get to experience the effects of the Super Rugby travel factor first hand when they host the Bulls at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.”
I put last nights humiliating 34-0 loss to the Bulls down to 6 simple factors:
- The change of Kings Captain after a successful Australasian tour.
- The travel factor.
- The Bulls opting to up their kicking game to grind down a Southern Kings already weary from travel.
- An early (8th minute) foul play hit on Luke Watson – Deon Stegmann took Watson out and a chat between the TMO and assistant Ref resulted in no censure.
- A clearly rattled Watson opting to play ‘shadow fullback’ until a tactical player change 4 minutes into the 2nd half.
- Did someone forget to tell the Kings that the Bulls intensify the pressure in the last minutes of the game?
Anyone who has played in the forward pack knows that there is no more demoralising and tiring state of play than to watch as backline players kick the ball over your head and down the center of the field time and time again – eventually your legs ache and your lungs scream for anyone (even one of your own) to just make a mistake so that you can trudge wearily to the breakdown point or touchline just to get your breath back.
Knowing full well that the Kings have received wide acclaim for their defense and taking full advantage of the ‘travel factor’ the Bule Bulls brains trust dished up the game that the Bulls have honed to perfection in the last 5 odd years – “grind the opposing team down with pinpoint accurate kicks in the field of play that force the opposition to do the same”. Not pretty rugby at all but devastatingly effective if all you want to do is take advantage of mistakes made by a side desperate to reclaim surprise early glory in a tough competition.
The memorable flashes of brilliance came from the four tries capitalising on the mistakes made by the Southern Kings.
Make no mistake the Bulls have honed their spoiling tactics and know how to rattle key players in order to subdue their opponents – that it is slightly morally indefensible matters not when the end of the season comes and the wins and losses are tallied.
The Southern Kings are in the unenviable position of having moved from ‘surprise, upstart darlings certain to draw a massive crowd‘ to ‘we want you to perform and put bums on seats‘ – I am sure that the Kings brains trust will be having a heart to heart with players and each other today.
Personally I think that the Kings captain should have, as is the norm, attended the post match press conference. The excuses given didn’t ring true to me.
But, Southern Kings supporters (fans are things you plug in to make wind!) can take heart from the proposed headline given by one of the Sunny Media Hacks after observing the proliferation of Eastern Province born players in the Bulls side; “In the game between EP A and EP B at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tonight, EP A won!”
At full time the score was: Southern Kings 0 (0) Bulls 34 (20)
- Southern Kings:
- Bulls: Tries – J. Sefontein, J. Vermaak, J. Potgieter, A. Ndungane. Penalty – M. Steyn. Conversions – M. Steyn (2), L. Fouche (2). Drop – M. Steyn
Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/2013/04/southern-kings-0-0-bulls-34-20/