Despite a dominant and committed first 15 minutes that saw them awarded as many as five early penalties in the opposition twenty-two, the Southern Kings were unfortunately unable to turn possession and field-position into points and were then punished for this once hosts Edinburgh were able to settle into their rhythm.
The Kings were returning to GUINNESSPRO14 action a full month after their last competitive fixture and were also confronted with icy northern hemisphere conditions quite at odds with the African summer weather they are currently enjoying at home. Driving rain compounded matters even further.
Perhaps these factors contributed to flyhalf Kurt Coleman narrowly missing a straightforward penalty that would have given the Kings the lead. Following that lapse, however, Edinburgh began to turn on the pressure and unconverted scores by Grant Gilchrist, Craig Kinghorn and Duhane Van Der Merwe saw them go into the halftime break leading by 15 points to nil.
Despite tackling their hearts out in the second half the Southern Kings were unable to stem the Edinburgh tide and conceded three more scores. Their never-say-die approach was epitomised though when Ntabeni Dukisa was able to cross for the final score of the match to ensure that the Kings got on the board. The final score of 37-7 meant the Kings are still in search of their maiden PRO14 win.
Speaking after the match, Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids acknowledged his disappointment that the Kings were a constant work-in-progress given their last-minute inclusion in the competition and he was sure that a “big result” was just around the corner. “I definitely feel we are getting better but this game is about momentum and about accuracy and whilst we had good momentum early in the game our accuracy was lacking and that allowed the opposition opportunities from which they could capitalise. We still need to be more patient when we have the opposition under pressure and in conditions like we played in today it’s extremely important to make sure you play the game in the right areas of the field,” he said.
Coach Davids also paid tribute to Edinburgh saying that they were “a quality side” who converted every small opportunity they got into points and that this was something the Kings would try to learn from.
The Kings now return to South Africa for back-to-back cross-conference matches against the Cheetahs and will be welcoming back a number of high-profile players for these encounters. Some, like Mike Makase and Micheal Willemse will be returning from injury and some, like Bobby De Wee, as a result of rotational policy.
The Kings next home game against the Cheetahs is Saturday, 13 January at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and kickoff is at 17:00. Gates open at 15:00. Tickets are available online at www.ticketpros.co.za or TicketPro outlets.