Expecting the worst, I was reluctant to the point of rather snooze off in front of the TV when the Southern Kings vs Western Force match started at 06:00 this morning in New Zealand.
The first 10 minutes was not encouraging at all with the Kings hardly seeing the ball. On the brink of switching the TV off, the Kings scored the first try of the match. Intrigued I started to watch, with more interest and what a delight it turned out to be.
SuperBru points in the back of my mind, I was not concerned about them losing. So I kept on watching not because they were edging ahead and eventually winning but because of the delightful rugby they dished-up.
The defence was good, the set piece solid (mostly), the line-out better than the Stormers on the weekend and the ball handling in the backline refreshing and full of variation. There was some enchanting inter-passing between forwards and backs, good hands, nice light touches and good decision-making when they carried the ball. Some exciting new talent was on display as well on the wing with Sergeal Petersen. Demetri Catrakilis had an impressive game at flyhalf. Seems that we have a wing here that could be a Springbok in the making and Catrakilis impressed as a flyhalf that can dictate as well as play the running game.
The commitment of the pack and their structures at the breakdown and set piece was promising, considering that it’s a first outing.
The Force probably underestimated them and is certainly not the biggest challenge which the Kings are going to face this year but it’s not the victory that had me sitting up while watching this bunch. It is the enchanting style of play, the variation on attack, the light touches, the way they attacked space, the offload in the tackles, the general ball handling, the structures at the breakdowns, the organised and committed defence and that one pushover scrum on attack that had me on the front of my seat.
What a delight to see a SA team that did not bore us to the bone with a kickathon kick-and-charge a la the Bulls or flap-flap recycle ad infinitum a la the Lions or stampkar-smash-it-up and flat-line defend for 80 minutes a la the Stormers or leak-tries-while-running-around-like-headless-chickens a la the Cheetahs.
It’s early days but if these guys produce some more of this, they’ll have my support, that’s for sure.
Herewith the Audio Soundbites from the 2 Post Match press conferences, curtecy of Eishmedia (we supply them with Audio from up north, they supply us with Audion from down south) – thanks Kevin Abbott: