Kings make Super Rugby history
[caption id="attachment_204153" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Berton Klaasen of the Southern Kings during the Super Rugby match between Southern Kings and Cell C Sharks at Nelson Mandela Bay
Picture: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images[/caption]
A resurgent Southern Kings outfit made Super Rugby history when they edged the Sharks 35-32 in a thrill-a-minute spectacle at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
It was the first time the Kings had beaten South African opposition in Super Rugby and there were jubilant scenes at the end when elated head coach Deon Davids joined his players on the field.
The game had been up for grabs until final 10 minutes as both teams battled for ascendency in a titanic struggle.
It was edge of the seat stuff for the crowd and a Garth April penalty after 68 minutes left the Sharks with a narrow 29-28 which ensured a tense finish.
There was fairytale ending for the Kings when, after intense pressure, Pieter-Steyn de Wet went over in the corner to put the Kings ahead 33-32.
Ahead of the clash Kings fans drummed up support with a #FillTheStadium campaign on social media and 22 000 fans turned up to watch the game.
It was the biggest crowd of the season at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and the partisan support provided extra energy for the home team on a historic day.
The fired-up Kings came out with all guns blazing after the halftime break and veteran wing Alshaun Bock was over for his second try in the 41st minute.
Lionel Cronje made no mistake with the conversion to put the Kings into a 23-16 lead and the Sharks knew they had become embroiled in a major battle.
The Kings made a dream start when Bock latched onto a pin-point cross-kick from Cronje to register the first try of the evening after four minutes.
A quick lineout throw had caught the Sharks by the surprise and Cronje’s measured kick tore the visitors’ defence wide open.
Earlier it was the Kings who struck first blood when cool-headed Cronje nailed a long range penalty to give the home fans something to cheer about after only two minutes.
Southern Kings 35: Tries: Alshaun Bock (2), Lionel Cronje, Pieter-Steyn De Wet. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (3) Penalties: Lionel Cronje (2). Drop goal: Lionel Cronje.
Sharks 32: Tries: Daniel du Preez. Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Patrick Lambie. Garth April . Penalties: Patrick Lambie (2), Garth April (4).