Kings claim third win
Kings skipper Luke Watson scored two of his team's four tries as they claimed a morale-boosting 34-27 Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
After being humiliated by the Waratahs in Port Elizabeth a week ago, the Kings didn't let their fans down again, bouncing back in style to bag the third win of their debut season and their first against Kiwi opposition.
The result means the Highlanders missed out on a golden opportunity to climb off the foot of the table as they slumped to their ninth loss in ten starts. Two losing bonus points leave them three behind the Western Force.
Watson's second try - on the stroke of half time - put the Kings 20-17 ahead at the interval after his first try had given the hosts the early lead.
Tries from Highlanders fly-half Colin Slade and veteran lock Brad Thorn had briefly put the visitors in front in the closing stages of the first period but a barnstorming start to the second half saw the Kings build a 17-point lead by the hour mark.
But the Highlanders came storming back via tries from centre Shaun Treeby and wing Hosea Gear to move within striking distance in the dying minutes.
The Kings' defence held on though, and the Super Rugby newcomers will be able to reflect on a much improved performance during their upcoming bye week.
The Highlanders meanwhile face the daunting task of travelling to Pretoria to face the Bulls.
More to follow...
Tries: Watson 2, Du Preez, Venter
Cons: Catrakilis 4
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Tries: Slade, Thorn, Treeby, Gear
Cons: Slade 2
Yellow card: Ellison
Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Siyanda Grey, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Shane Gates, 22 SP Marais.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Mose Tuiali'i, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Jason Emery.
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende and Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)