Upbeat Kings skipper fires warning shot at Cheetahs
With a win over Edinburgh under his belt and confidence at a new high, Isuzu Southern Kings skipper JC Astle has fired a warning shot at the Cheetahs ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Astle believes the Kings’ explosive back division out wide could be the key to victory in what promises to be a hard-fought Guinness PRO14 showdown.
The Kings will be looking to avenge a narrow defeat against the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth when the teams clash in Bloemfontein.
Victory at the Free State Stadium would also give the Kings a chance to move away from the bottom of the Conference B table.
Like the Kings, the Cheetahs will have their tails up after they thumped Italian team Zebre 61-28 in their last outing.
Eight minutes before the end, the Kings were trailing 21-13 against Edinburgh, but tries from Bader Pretorius and Yaw Penxe secured victory.
“It was an outstanding win over Edinburgh. It was the best five minutes of my life.
“We have been fighting so hard this season, and eventually it all came together in the last five minutes,” Astle said.
“We were on our own tryline for a long time in the second half and I am really happy the guys could pull it through.
“It was a massive mental effort to hold Edinburgh at bay when they put us under pressure on our own tryline.
“After that we knew we could do it. The forwards really stood up at close quarters and I was happy with that.”
The Scottish side went through more than 30 phases at one stage, before an attempted try by prop Pietro Ceccarelli was disallowed by Welsh referee Dan Jones.
Astle said his team had remained focused after Edinburgh pulled eight points clear with eight minutes remaining.
“We know we have the skill and we also know we can always come from behind because we have the firing backs out wide.
“The Kings knew that if they held onto the ball and focused on the fundamentals we could pull it through.”
Kings loose forward Tienie Burger, who made 26 tackles against Edinburgh and was named man of the match, said the team had worked hard in training.
“It was a big team effort. We gave it our best shot.”