The Southern Kings remained positive following the opening match of their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign despite falling short with a hard-fought 26-39 defeat to the Jaguares at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The Southern Kings began the match at a high tempo, enjoying the lead in the first quarter of an hour of the match, through the boot of flyhalf and vice-captain, Lionel Cronje.
The Jaguares took the lead when scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou scored the opening try of the game.
With the game still a close contest, the two sides went into the half-time break with the Kings trailing 12-19.
Errors from the home side in the early stages of the second half saw the visitors capitalising and converting their chances to points, dotting down back-to-back tries as they extended the lead.
The Kings showed some fight in the late stages of the game as they attempted to forge a late comeback, but time was not on their side when the final whistle blew with the home team unable to start the campaign on a winning start, as they went down 26-39.
The Kings scored two tries in the last 15 minutes through winger Makazole Mapimpi, who made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut, and substitute Luzuko Vulindlu.
“I think we started well and good some good things at the start, and also towards the end. We just, unfortunately, could not find that rhythm and intensity we would have liked to have,” Kings head coach Deon Davids said.
“You simply can’t play rugby without the ball. Our lineouts and scrums were not as good as they can be. That is something that we definitely need to work on.
“We played against ourselves. In the first 10 minutes after half-time we conceded two simple tries from simple errors. Those were tries that were scored from our mistakes, and that is something that we need to improve on.
“We need to ensure that we get quality ball from our set pieces. We need to ensure that whenever we kick the ball we apply good pressure, especially when it is a contestable kick. We need to ensure that we play more rugby in our opponents’ half and less in our own half. The first half we played way too much rugby in our own territory and that made it easy for them to play from turnovers and put us under pressure.”
Davids could also draw some positives from the match. The coach was impressed with the impact that the bench made when they came on in the second half.
“I thought they did very well – the front three, Chris Cloete and Luzuko Vulindlu towards the end made a huge impact. They picked up the tempo and the rhythm. It’s good when players come off the bench and make a difference. That is a good sign and we can build on that. I think as the competition goes on and we don’t get many injuries we can build on a lot of positives,” said Davids.