Proud Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids praised his team after they managed to overcome the loss of three key players to injury to beat the Sunwolves 37-23 in Singapore.
The Kings were dealt a double blow when both scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and then replacement No 9 Rudi van Rooyen were forced to leave the field in a high-scoring Super Rugby clash.
Burly lock Mzwanele Zito was also sidelined by injury and the Kings had to draw deep on their replacement bench against a Sunwolves side who were full of running.
“To lose our main lineout jumper and then both scrumhalves was difficult. It was a really tough win and I applaud the effort of the boys in taking on the challenge,” Davids said.
“The Sunwolves had us scrambled on defence and, if they had more continuity, they could have converted that into points.”
The Kings will now regroup and consult their medical staff before they name their side for a tough showdown against the Stormers in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The try scorers for the Kings, in hot conditions in Singapore, were Rudi van Rooyen, Chris Cloete, Ruan Lerm and Malcolm Jaer.
It was the kicking and general dominant play of Kings’ flyhalf Lionel Cronje that powered the visitors to victory.
The cool-headed playmaker was perfect on both conversions (four) and penalties (three).
“Our execution of skills, I believe, let us down,” Sunwolves captain Ed Quirk said.
“We had good opportunities inside the 22, and kicked the ball away – we’ll have a look at that.
“You saw last week that our last 20 minutes are always our good 20 minutes. We’ve got to try to transfer that into the start of the game.
“Obviously, we piggybacked them all the way down with stupid penalties.
“All credit to the Kings, they definitely capitalised on everything.”
Sunwolves head coach Filo Tiatia agreed with his captain.
“They capitalised on their opportunities. We weren’t clinical enough and didn’t hold onto the ball. We also made some poor decisions,” he said.
“When we did get our roles right we put the Kings under pressure, but we need to do that consistently.”
With the Sunwolves back on the road for their next two matches before they return to Singapore for round five, Quirk knows the team has a rough road ahead.
“We need to repay our fans,” he said.
“I know we have a tough week coming up. But for us, we are going to stay on the grind and keep getting better.”