Despite a committed and industrious performance from the Isuzu Southern Kings, the South African franchise went down by 32 points to 16 against Zebre in their GUINNESSPRO14 Championship season opener played in Parma, Italy on Friday, 31 August 2018.
Fullback Michael Botha, who was one of six players in the match day squad making their debut for the Isuzu Southern Kings, scored the franchise’s first try, and points, of the 2018/2019 season when he touched down after 15 minutes at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. Masixole Banda’s conversion of Botha’s try was the first of a flawless four out of four kicks goaled by the Kings’ pivot on the night and brought his team to within just three points of the home side. Another score by Zebre just before halftime though saw the home side go into the break leading by 17 points to 7.
The second half action mirrored that of the first with Zebre scoring another 17 points through a try, a goal and a penalty, whilst the Isuzu Southern Kings replied with three penalties from the boot of Banda.
A feature of the match was the penalty count which went against the SA franchise by 15 to 4 and it was an area that Head Coach Deon Davids immediately identified as “requiring urgent attention” when speaking post- match.
“Our discipline let us down tonight and that cost us. On a number of occasions we got ourselves into promising positions on attack only to transgress and allow Zebre to shift the momentum. Their last try right on the hooter also came about when we only had 14 men on the field due to a yellow card and this is an aspect of our game we will have to sort out before our next match in Newport,” said Davids.
He did add that he was extremely happy with way his team had started the match and also lauded their defensive effort throughout.
“It’s obviously not the result I was hoping for but I took heart from the effort our guys put in and I think things will only improve as the new players and combinations become more familiar with each other,” he said.
The Isuzu Southern Kings next GUINNESSPRO14 fixture takes them to the Rodney Parade in Newport, South Wales, where they will come up against the Dragons. That fixture takes place on Saturday, September 08.
Zebre Rugby Club 34 (17) Isuzu Southern Kings 16 (7)
- Zebre Rugby Club – Tries: Oliviero Fabiani, Mattia Bellini, Apisai Tauyavuca, Jimmy Tuivaiti. Conversions: Carlo Canna (4). Penalty Goals: Carlo Canna, Giovanbattista Venditti.
- Isuzu Southern Kings – Tries: Mikey Botha. Conversion: Masixole Banda. Penalty Goals: Masixole Banda (3).
The Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings got their Guinness PRO14 seasons off to a disappointing start this weekend as their best efforts left them short on the scoreboard against Munster and Zebre Rugby Club respectively.
Both teams started off their clashes competitively, but they fell off the pace as the opposition made better use of their try-scoring opportunities.
The Toyota Cheetahs tried hard to make their presence felt against Munster in Limerick, but their limited possession and turnovers at crucial times cost them dearly with the team suffering a 38-0 defeat.
Munster attacked at will throughout the match, and although the Free Stater’s did well to shut them out early on, they were unable to continue this for the full 80 minutes, which saw the hosts and 2017 Semi-finalists run in six tries to none after holding a slender 12-0 halftime lead.
The Isuzu Southern Kings also delivered a determined display against Zebre Rugby Club in Parma, where they found themselves trailing 10-7 after 15 minutes as Mikey Botha scored a try to cancel out the one by Zebre’s Oliviero Fabiani.
The home team, however, scored another try shortly before the break to hand them a 17-7 lead and they added two more after the break, while the men from Port Elizabeth opted for three second-half penalty goals by Masixole Banda as they battled to breach the defence, which saw them go down 34-16.
In the other matches, defending champions, Leinster, pipped the Cardiff Blues 33-32 at Cardiff Arms Park and Ospreys held on for a 17-13 victory against Edinburgh in Swansea on Friday.
In Saturday’s matches Connacht Rugby suffered a heart-breaking 27-26 defeat against the Glasgow Warriors in Galway, Ulster best the Scarlets 15-13 in Belfast, and the Dragons went down 17-21 against Benetton Rugby in Newport.
Munster 38 (12) Toyota Cheetahs 0 (0)
- Munster – Tries: Dave Kilcoyne, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, JJ Hanrahan, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (4).