EMOTIONAL Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids said enduring spirit and guts had sparked his team to an epic 35-32 Super Rugby win over the Sharks at the weekend.
Davids’ view was shared by disappointed Sharks coach Robert du Preez‚ who said passion had carried the Kings home in front of strong and ecstatic 22 000 fans at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
It was a special night for the Kings as they celebrated their first win over South African opposition in Super Rugby and also their third win on the trot.
“It is all about character and the guys showed a lot of that tonight. They kept fighting right up until the end‚” Davids said.
“For me that is special. It is not always talent that wins you games. It is more about the guts and the players in the team. It’s about the spirit‚ guts and willingness that the guys have to carry team over.
“That was special in terms of this win. It was a hard-fought battle. I always believed towards the end that we could win it. After we conceded a try‚ I sent out a message that we must stick to our plan.”
Though they won the match at the end‚ Davids admitted that they were under pressure for most of the second half as the experienced and fancied Sharks who pushed for the win.
“That was to put the Sharks under pressure and kick off to win the ball back and play in their half. For 80% of the second half we were under tremendous pressure.
“We were in our own half and we conceded penalties and the Sharks kept coming back with penalties and they were getting back into the game‚” Davids said.
Sharks coach Du Preez said it was a disappointing night for his team after they were outscored in terms of tries.
“We can’t really have any complaints and we got outscored by four tries to two.
“Obviously Pat Lambie’s injury was a setback for the team in the first half‚ but we have capable players to fix that issue‚” he said‚ adding that he was not sure of the extent of his captain’s injury.
Lambie left the field after an awkward collision with his fullback Rhyno Smith and he was replaced by Garth April.
“This is fantastic for the Kings and they have been playing good rugby all year.
“It is great and this is what we need in South Africa to have sides like the Kings who perform well against a team like the Sharks.
“I thought the Kings played really well.”
Asked what had sparked the Kings’ win‚ Du Preez said: “Passion and the fact that we could not exit.
“At the end of the day‚ that cost us the game. I thought the Kings did really well in the scrums especially when we had a guy in the bin.”
The game had been up for grabs until the final 10 minutes as both teams battled for ascendency in a titanic struggle creating edge of the seat stuff for the crowd and a April penalty after 68 minutes left the Sharks with a narrow 29-28 which ensured a tense finish.
There was a fairytale ending for the Kings when‚ after intense pressure‚ Pieter-Steyn de Wet went over in the corner to put the home side ahead 33-32 in the 78th minute.
The Kings made a dream start when wing Bock latched onto a pin-point cross-kick from his skipper Lionel Cronje to register the first try of the evening after four minutes.
A quick lineout throw had caught the Sharks by the surprise and Cronje’s measured kick tore the visitors’ defence wide open.
It was the first of four tries for the home team on a famous night for the franchise as they will be hunting for a fourth win on the trot when they host Australia’s Brumbies at Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday. — Tiso Black Star Group/Tiso Black Star Group Sport