Cape Town - Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids had high praise for his team for the fine first half performance they turned in against Irish club Leinster in the historical first PRO14 clash played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Davids had promised in the lead up to the game that his team would adopt a positive approach and this was certainly clear from the opening whistle. The Kings dominated possession and field position for long periods of the first half and it was only the bounce of the ball and some solid Leinster defence that saw the visitors able to go into the break leading by 7 points to 3.
All the Kings grit, heart and honest endeavour were unfortunately undone by the experienced Leinster outfit - their squad boasts more than 1200 caps between them - who were able to gain the upper hand in the second stanza. The final score may have been 31-10 to the Irishmen but the never-say-die Kings did at least have the satisfaction of scoring the final try of the match when substitute Jacques Nell completed a flowing move that covered the length of the field
Speaking after the match, Kings captain Michael Willemse lauded his troops for their first half performance but expressed disappointment that the team were not yet able to maintain that level for a full 90 minutes. "We'll keep getting fitter and stronger and begin to get to know each other better too," Willemse promised - referring to the hastily- assembled squad he captains that was drawn from all over South Africa when PRO14 inclusion was confirmed.
The Kings next face Zebre who last to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The Italians come calling next weekend against the Kings, scheduled to kick off at 19h35 on Saturday, September 23.