Two late tries earned the Brumbies a 10-19 win over the Southern Kings, in a scrappy affair in Port Elizabeth, on Saturday evening.
The Kings were searching for a fourth successive victory in the competition, while the Brumbies were looking to snap a four-match losing streak of their own, when the two sides collided at a jam-packed Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The deadlock was broken as early as the third-minute when Makazole Mapimpi received the ball near the left-hand touch-line on half-way, and chipped behind Brumbies fullback, Tom Banks. As Mapimpi attempted to ground the ball, Banks cynically knocked it dead, resulting in a yellow card for the Brumbies’ man and a penalty-try for the Kings.
The Brumbies had the chance to hit-back a couple of minutes later with a penalty from right in front, but flyhalf, Wharenui Hawera hooked it horribly wide. He was made to rue his mistake a few minutes later, when Kings flyhalf, Lionel Cronje nailed a penalty of his own after another dominant scrum from the hosts.
Referee, Jaco Peyper eventually lost his patience with Kings prop, Ross Geldenhuys when the front-ranker was yellow-carded for continually collapsing a series of Brumbies’ mauls from 5m out from the Kings’ try-line. Hooker Josh Mann-Rea crashed over soon afterwards from the back of another maul, to claim the Australian side’s first five-pointer in over 230-minutes; Hawera’s missed touch-line conversion leaving the scores at 10-5.
Despite dominating possession (73%) and territory (80%), the Brumbies’ poor handling skills meant that they were unable to trouble the scoreboard for the remainder of the first-half. Rory Arnold looked to have scored the visitors’ second of the evening when he barged over just before the break, but the TMO adjudged the ball to have gone forward in the build-up.
It took 23-minutes for the scores to be troubled in the second-period, but troubled they were after a shocking piece of play by none other than the Kings’ supersub of a week ago, Pieter Steyn de Wet. The utility back’s looping pass was intercepted by Brumbies flanker, Chris Alcock, who managed to offload to his scrumhalf, Joe Powell. Powell stabbed a devilish kick deep inside the Kings’ 22, which was superbly gathered by Aiden Toua, who dived over in the left-hand corner. Hawera’s conversion making it 10-12, as the visitors took the lead for the first time in the contest.
The Brumbies, spurred on by Toua’s score, hit back again soon afterwards when Wallaby centre, Tevita Kuridrani executed a deft grubber kick behind the Kings’ defensive line, which was finished off well by Banks in the corner – Hawera was successful with the conversion. Banks’ score proved to be the final telling moment of the match, as the game ended at 10-19.
The win sees the Brumbies maintain their ascendency at the summit of the Australian Conference, and second in Australasia with 23-points, while the Kings remain in fifth-place on the overall Africa Conference and fourth in Africa 2. Stephen Larkham’s boys next travel to Argentina to take on the Jaguares, while the Kings will battle it out with the Lions in Johannesburg before the June international break commences next month.
Tries: Penalty try
Yellow Cards: Ross Geldenhuys.
Tries: Mann-Rea, Aiden Toua, Tom Banks.
Conversions: Wharenui (2)
Yellow Cards: Tom Banks.