PE team come from behind for confidence-building victory in Sydney
Emotional Southern Kings captain Lionel Cronje described a shock 26-24 win over the Waratahs in Sydney as amazing and said it would kick-start the rest of the Super Rugby campaign for the team. The Kings started the clash as underdogs, but fought tenaciously for only their second win of the season against a star-studded Waratahs side.
There were jubilant scenes at the end when elated Kings coach Deon Davids went onto the field to congratulate his players.
The Kings will be hoping to take this form into their next game against the Melbourne Rebels at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium next Saturday.
The win follows hot on the heels of news that South Africa will lose two Super Rugby teams next year, and it is expected that the Kings and Cheetahs will get the chop.
“It has been an absolutely emotional tour for us after all the Super Rugby news and there has been a lot of pressure on the administrators and our families at home,” Cronje said.
In their opening matches of their Australian tour, the Kings were beaten by the Western Force and Reds.
“It was amazing to pull through a game through like this and to get a victory over the Waratahs, who are previous Super Rugby champions and such a great side,” Cronje said.
“I must give credit to the players for fighting for a win. I can’t describe how proud I am of the guys.
“The team want to dedicate this win to our administrators, players and our families back home at this tough time for the Kings.
“We set high standards for ourselves. We felt we have been competitive and feel we could have got a few more wins this season.
“We needed this win and I think it will kickstart the confidence for us to be able take to it through for the rest of the competition and hopefully keep building on it.”
A relieved Davids said his team did not need much motivation from him ahead of the clash.
“There is a great camaraderie among the players and they enjoy each others company. We just focus on becoming better as a team and the boys deserve it,” Davids said.
“It was not an issue of me motivating them too much to do their best. As individuals they want to grow and be better.
“We worked hard for this one and I am glad about the improvement and the result. It has been a long three weeks in Australia, but we enjoyed it.
“From the start we focused on the stuff we could control and kept working on our game.
“We were disappointed with the past two results because we felt we had played some good rugby, but let ourselves down. We wanted to improve on that and we just kept working on those things.”
The Kings trailed 17-7 at half-time, but scored the next 19 points before the Waratahs scored a last-minute converted consolation try to claim a losing bonus point.
The Waratahs looked on track for a much-needed bonus-point win after opening up a 17-0 lead with three first-half tries before the Kings hit back with tries by Justin Forwood, Masixole Banda and Michael Willemse.
The Kings clinched victory with a penalty try awarded after a succession of scrum binding errors in the final minutes.
The Waratahs grabbed an after-the-siren bonus point with a consolation try from winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who opened the scoring with the first try of the night.
Captain Michael Hooper was scathing about his team’s dreadful showing before their home fans.
“It was a pretty embarrassing performance from us,” he said. “There was a lot of talk, not much action. It’s going to be a tough weekend.” Scorers: Southern Kings 26: Tries: Justin Forwood, Masixole Banda, Michael Willemse, Penalty try. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Waratahs 24: Tries: Taqele Naiyaravoro (2), Rob Horne, Cameron Clark. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2).