By: Gavin Rich
On a night when the team scored 44 points you might have thought it would be the attack that was raved about afterwards, but it was the sound defensive effort across 80 minutes that drew most of the focus of the Southern Kings leaders after the great Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Rebels.
The Kings go into a bye week now off two consecutive victories, with the close win over the Waratahs in Sydney the previous week being followed by a one-sided decimation of the Rebels at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth this past weekend. The Kings, like they did in all their games in Australia, scored some great tries, but it was keeping the Rebels from crossing their line that most pleased both coach Deon Davids and skipper Lionel Cronje.
“This was a very sweet win for us and we are all very happy about it. We were close in other games and we grafted a win over the Waratahs and took a lot of belief from that,” said Davids.
“I felt like the guys realised their potential tonight, they did some great things with ball in hand and did a lot of things right. But while everyone will look at the scoreboard and think this was all about our attacking game, it was the defensive effort that was most pleasing. Defensively we were very good in this match and we defended well throughout the game.
“It was off our good defence that we turned the ball over and created scoring opportunities for ourselves. Maybe we did a bit too much in our own half, but then it is good after a win like that to be able to say that we can still improve here and there. Our discipline for a start needs to be improved. We gave away far too many penalties in this game and we spoke about that at halftime.”
Try scoring hasn’t been a problem for the Kings this season. They have some great runners out wide, and they have certainly contributed to the South African resource base at the back, but up until this past weekend there would always be periods during Kings games where there’d be lapses of concentration on defence. And that has cost them dearly.
Flyhalf and captain Cronje joined Davids in pinpointing the defence as the area of the game that had most pleased him.
“It was because of our defensive effort that we got big reward against the Rebels,” said Cronje.
“For once we defended well throughout the game and not just for parts of it, and that helped us get this result. Our defence was just as good as our attack. We put together a complete performance for the first time.”
The Kings’ next engagement is against the Sharks in two weeks and suddenly the rematch of the narrow Sharks win in Durban just over a month ago is looking like an appetising prospect.
“The break has come at just the right time for us,” said Davids. “There are some very tired bodies in the change-room. We will take this week off and try not to even think about rugby and then come back refreshed and ready for our next game.”