The Southern Kings put on a good display to beat the Melbourne Rebels in the 82nd minute, but battled to maintain their initial momentum that saw the team leading 14 points to nil 15 minutes into the first half.
“Of course we’re exceptionally happy with the four log points, and the overall result, but we battled in the middle of the game,” said head coach Matt Sexton.
The Kings got off to a flying start with Ronald Cooke scoring the first try in the 8th minute, followed shortly afterwards with a brilliant try by Shaun Venter in the 15th minute, with both easily converted off the boot of Demetri Catrakilis.
However the Kings appeared to ease off the pressure, allowing the Rebels to gain momentum and retaliate with two tries of their own in the 26th minute by Ged Robinson, then in the 38th minute by Angus Roberts. Rebels flyhalf James O’Connor converted both for the home team.
Add the trade off in penalty kicks between O’Connor and Catrakilis a half hour into the game, and the score was level at 17 each at the half time whistle.
Sexton said he felt the team had not played to their full potential, and continued to give away too many penalties.
“The problem is that we perhaps had too much of a good start and the guys took their foot off the gas and relaxed a little, which allowed the momentum to sway in the Rebels favour,” he said.
“We have got to learn to keep the pressure on, but this is also a learning curve for us and this was another lesson learnt,” he said.
Sexton said the Rebels had been a quality side and had given the Kings a tough game.
The Kings were still on the back foot coming back in the second half, with the Rebels taking the lead for the first time in the 45th minute, when O’Connor kicked a penalty over to take his team to 20 points.
Seven minutes later the Rebels Mitch Inman pushed over the line, with his try converted by O’Connor, taking the Rebels to 27, 10 points ahead of the Kings with 17 minutes left on the clock.
It was in the last fifteen minutes that the Kings came back into the game, with Catrakilis adding 3 points to the board with a penalty kick, and then a try by Wimpie van der Walt in the 77th minute, converted by Catrakilis, finally drawing the Kings level with the Rebels.
As the game ticked over into overtime, the Kings made their final play and Catrakilis kicked a spectacular, well executed drop goal, regaining the lead for the Southern Kings and winning the match, 30 to 27.
Director or Rugby, Alan Solomons, echoed Sexton’s assessment of the game, saying the players had had a much better second half.
“We lost momentum and eased off after the first ten minutes or so, and our exiting our own half was poor, we gave away too many penalties which meant we made work for ourselves,” he said.
Solomons said that while the team had not played particularly well, the win once again showed the determination and character of the squad.
“A win when you’re not playing well, that says a lot about the team,” he said.
Solomons said he was very happy with the drop goal at the end.
“We knew Demetri could do it, he’s done it before at Currie cup and Vodacom Cup level, and he has a wonderful temperament under pressure,” he said.
“Before this it was already a good tour, but the win has turned this into a fantastic tour,” he said.
Rebels – Tries: Ged Robinson, Angus Roberts, Mitch Inman. Conversions: James O`Connor (3). Penalties: O`Connor (2)
Southern Kings– Penalty: Ronnie Cooke, Shaun Venter, Wimpie van der Walt. Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Drop goal: Catrakilis Penalties: Catrakilis (2) .
15. Richard Kingi, 14. Jason Woodward, 13. Mitch Inman, 12. Rory Sidey, 11. Cooper Vuna, 10. James O’Connor, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 6. Luke Jones, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 4. Hugh Pyle, 3. Paul Alo-Emile, 2. Ged Robinson, 1. Nic Henderson
Substotues: 16. Shota Horie, 17. Laurie Weeks, 18. Jordy Reid, 19. Jarrod Saffy, 20. Nick Stirzaker, 21. Lachlan Mitchell, 22. Angus Roberts
15 George Whitehead, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss (captain), 11 Ronnie Cooke, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jacques Englebrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Marcello Sampson, 22 Siviwe Soyizwapi