10 FEBRUARY 2018

Belfast may have been in the grips of a Northern Hemisphere winter chill but the Southern Kings ran into an Ulster team in red-hot form in a GUINNESPRO14 Championship rugby match played at the Kingspan Stadium last night (Friday, 9 February).

Despite a stout and gutsy defensive performance, especially in the first half, the Kings went down by 59 points to 10 against the Irishmen, after trailing 21-3 at halftime.

It was a disappointing start to the South African franchise’s three-match tour of Europe and whilst interim head coach Barend Pieterse was left to rue a number of unforced errors by his charges, he was at least also able to reflect on the fact that his team were able to score the most memorable try of the match when a counter-attack that started on the Kings own tryline ended with centre Harlon Klaasen finally dotting down.

The result left the Kings with four points on the log after 14 matches whilst Ulster were able to maintain their bid to make the end-of-season play-offs by holding onto third place in Conference B.

“I’m naturally disappointed with the outcome as I feel this squad has been improving since the start of the competition and we were hoping to cause an upset in Belfast but it was not to be. We’re just going to have to keep working at our game” said Pieterse

There won’t be much time for the Kings to work on their game, though, as their next fixture, against Ospreys, takes place this coming Friday, 15 February. It remains to be seen whether Pieterse will take charge of the Kings preparations for this match or whether Head Coach Deon Davids will be able to join up with the squad in time. Davids did not travel with the squad earlier this week due to medical reasons.

Last night’s encounter against Ulster was also noteworthy in that it saw Joy Neville become the first female official to referee a game in the GUINNESSPRO14 Championship.

Following the match, team doctor Clement Plaatjies reported that both scrumhalf Rowan Gouws and prop forward Dayan Van der Westhuizen had sustained ankle injuries and would be in a race against time in order to be fit for the fixture against Ospreys.

“We’ll only be sure of their availability in the next day or two once we’ve had a chance to see how they respond to treatment but Rowan’s ankle ligament sprain, in particular, is cause for concern,” said Dr Plaatjies.

Flyhalf Martin Du Toit was forced to leave the field late in the game against Ulster with a recurrence of the stiff lower back injury that has been plaguing him for a while but Dr Plaatjies was confident he would be fit to take his place in the match against Ospreys.

Friday night’s match takes place at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea and kick off is at 21h35 SA time.

The match against Ulster was also noteworthy in that it saw Joy Neville become the first female official to referee a game in the GUINNESPRO14 Championship