The hope and pride of the Eastern Cape – the Southern Kings – smarting from their last loss against the Jaguares flew off to Argentina quietly determined to get that win and continue confounding the Super Rugby community with their spirit, ahead of the almost inevitable chop when the two teams leaving Super rugby are announced on 7 July 2017.
The Southern Kings lost to the Jaguares 39-26 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 25 February 2017 and a win in the home of the Jaguares would be a great return favour.
Speculation is rife that the Southern Kings and Free State Cheetahs will join the Pro12 competition. Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies is quoted as saying; “There are discussions going on, which people are aware of, between the Pro12 and South African rugby union and the franchises down there. There is a desire from the South African teams I think to join the Pro12 and I think the Pro12 would like them to join. At the moment it looks like the two teams from Super Rugby that will not be in the competition next year will join (the Pro12).”
Asked about next season Southern Kings Vice Captain Ross Geldenhuys said; “The nest season is going to deal with itself, we need to wait for the powers that be in SANZAR and SARU to determine what’s happening there. If it’s Pro12 then it will be Pro12 and if it’s Super Rugby it will be Super Rugby. We just need to focus on the next game and the more we win the harder it will be for us to leave.”
On 1 July 2017 in a match played at the José Amalfitani Stadium, Beunous Aries, Argentina after the final whistle only one point separated the Kings and the Jaguares: 31-30 in the Kings favour.
In their first competitive game for both sides after a month-long break, the home side led 20-14 at halftime but tired in the second half.
The Jaguares, who scored five tries to the Kings’ four, still could have pulled out a win but Joaquin Diaz Bonilla missed a sideline conversion in the 75th minute before the hosts lost a lineout while threatening to score in the final minute.
Both teams have won five of 13 games this season and have long been out of the running for a finals spot.
The Kings have now won four out of six games in the competition and the Jaguares have now experienced their seventh loss in eight games.
With the Kings trailing 20-14 at the start of the second half an early try in the 42nd minute by the Jaguares, Joaquin Tuculet seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the Kings who were then thrown a lifeline in the 47th minute with a succesful penalty goal from Lionel Cronje to inch the Kings back up the scoreboard and give renewed vigour.
A missed Jaguares penalty in the 57th minute and an altercation between Matera and Cronje leading to a penalty for the Kings and from that a try in the 59th minute from Makazole Mapimpi who received a pass, with no-one near him to score beside the uprights. A succesful conversion from Lionel Cronje and the Kings were back in the game trailing the Jaguares by one point (25-24).
A missed penalty goal in the 63rd minute by the Jaguares replacement, Gonzalo Bertanou was to be the deciding move in the Kings favour.
With nine minutes to go Wandile Mjekevu showed his twinkle toes side step and crashed over under the poles to put the Kings 29-25 in front. Cronje converted and the Kings moved to 31-25.
Undeterred the Jaguares Joaquín Tuculet scooped up a corner kick from Pablo Matera to score – the conversion from Gonzalo Bertanou was unsuccesful and five minutes later it was victory for the Southern Kings.
With five tries to four in the favour of the Jaguares and four conversions to one in favour of the Southern Kings the match was one of conversions. Poor goal-kicking cost the Jaguares dearly as fly-half Nicolas Sanchez fluffed four of six shots at the posts and Bonilla was wide with his two attempts. Cronje was much more successful, succeeding with five of six kicks at goal as the Kings triumphed in what could be their last Super Rugby match outside South Africa.
After the game Southern Kings Vice Captain Ross geldenhuys said; “Every team that runs onto the rugby field wants to gibve their best and expects to win and that is what we did today. We came here with the goal to win because it is really hard to win here, not many teams have won here in the past.”
The next game for the Southern Kings will be an 8 July away game against the Blue Bulls who beat the Sharks last night 30-17. A win in the heart of Blue Bull country after the 7 July decision will be the perfect bird to flip at the ‘powers that be’ should the Southern Kings be out of the Super Rugby tournament for next season.
- Southern Kings – 31 (14): Tries – Luzuko Vulindlu, Makazole Mapimpi (2), Wandile Mjekevu. Conversions – Lionel Cronje (4). Penalties: Lionel Cronje
- Jaguares – 30 (25): Tries – Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Joaquin Tuculet (2). Conversions – Nicolas Sanchez. Penalties: Nicolas Sanchez
- Southern Kings: 15. Malcolm Jaer, 14. Wandile Mjekevu, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Lionel Cronje (Captain), 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Andisa Ntsila, 7. Tyler Paul, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Irne Herbst, 3. Ross Geldenhuys (Vice Captain), 2. Michael Willemse and 1. Mzamo Majola. REPLACEMENTS: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Schalk Ferreira, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20. Thembelani Bholi, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Masixole Banda, 23. Yaw Penxe.
- Jaguares: 15. Joaquín Tuculet, 14. Matías Moroni, 13. Matías Orlando, 12. Bautista Ezcurra, 11. Emiliano Boffelli, 10. Nicolás Sánchez, 9. Martín Landajo (Captain), 8. Leonardo Senatore, 7. Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Matías Alemanno, 4. Guido Petti, 3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2. Julián Montoya, 1. Lucas Noguera. REPLACEMENTS: 16. Roberto Tejerizo, 17. Santiago García Botta, 18. Enrique Pieretto, 19. Ignacio Larrague, 20. Rodrigo Báez, 21. Gonzalo Bertanou, 22. Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23. Santiago Cordero.
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