Sharks battle past Kings
The Sharks moved top of the South African conference after recording a hard-fought 21-12 victory over the Kings on Saturday.
John Plumtree's side went tryless for a second straight match and relied on the boot of Springboks fly-half Pat Lambie, who nailed six penalties and a dropped goal.
His opposite number, Demetri Catrakilis, kicked all four penalties for the Kings, who proved their win on debut over the Western Force was no fluke.
The Kings made more than 100 tackles against the Force, and notched 107 against the Sharks.
The Sharks had one try disallowed and were held up over the try-line three more times, and their failure to cross against a terrifically committed defense only boosted the confidence of the Kings.
The game started at a frenetic pace with the Sharks doing most of the attacking.
They were camped inside the home side's half for large periods but, to their credit, the Kings did not take a step back and defended resiliently.
In the 12th minute, with the Sharks leading 3-0 after a Lambie place-kick, Louis Ludik rounded off a back-line move in the left-hand corner but, after consulting the television match official, referee Jason Jaftha disallowed the try due to a forward pass from Paul Jordaan to Ludik.
It was one-way traffic, for the rest of the half, as the Sharks launched several attacks, but all they could show for their efforts were two further penalties and a drop goal, just before half-time, from Lambie.
The hosts only points during this period came via the boot of Catrakilis.
Despite leading leading 12-3, at the interval, the Sharks would have expected a greater reward for the amount of time they spent on the attack in the Kings' half.
The Kings repeated their defensive heroics in the second half and also denied Lwazi Mvovo a try when he was held up over the line.
However, they had too few opportunities on attack to seriously threaten the Sharks and it was only the accurate boot of Catrakilis which kept them within striking distance of the Durban-based franchise.
After spending much of the first half on the backfoot, the home side improved in the second half as Catrakilis booted three penalties, although the Sharks rarely seemed in danger of losing.
Catrakilis narrowed the margin to 18-12, giving the Kings an outside chance of a major upset, but the Sharks were equally effective on defence and the hosts could find no way through.
Lambie sealed the win with another penalty in the 80th minute to deny the Kings a deserved bonus-point.
Pen: Catrakilis 4
Pen: Lambie 6
Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Darron Nell (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Luke Watson, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Francois Steyn (c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)