The Cheetahs and Kings’ final appearance in Super Rugby delivered a scrappy but fitting 21-20 victory for the central franchise in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening.
It was hardly a classic game as both sides seemed way too eager to play in a carefree manner.
In the end, the Cheetahs overcame a deficit of 3-17 and used their substitutes well to snatch a win over a home side that went flat.
Who was the star in this match?
The Kings’ flankers Andisa Ntsila and Thembelani Bholi were superb on defence. The Cheetahs’ Springbok wing Raymond Rhule also enjoyed a fine night on the attack but it was captain Francois Venter that sparked his team’s revival. He ran clever lines, defended robustly and kept a cool head.
Key themes and moments
- The scene was set for a freewheeling, attacking night of rugby given that both teams pretty much had nothing to play for. But sometimes freedom is not used all that well. The first half was, in many ways, a mess. Both teams were far too eager to run with the ball without a proper foundation. The Cheetahs in particular played far too much rugby in their own half.
- The Kings were better in the second quarter of the game, using field position well to score two tries. Wing Wandile Mjekevu’s slicing run-in from a scrum was well-worked.
- When lock Giant Mtyanda’s galloping run from a turnover led to the hosts’ third try shortly after half-time, they took the foot off the pedal, clearly comfortable with a 17-3 lead.
- After the Cheetahs converted a penalty in the 52nd minute, it actually signalled a momentum shift. They exploited the Kings’ poor judgement in still throwing the ball around and feasted on the counterattack. Venter and Rhule were especially prominent on the attack as the central franchise snatched a win.
- At the start of the season, the Kings struggled with their set-pieces. It was therefore rather ironic that their season had to end with five lost line-outs. It robbed them of a good platform.
Kings – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Wandile Mjekevu, Giant Mtyanda. Conversion: Lionel Cronje. Penalty: Cronje.
Cheetahs – Tries: Clinton Swart, Raymond Rhule. Conversion: Niel Marais. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (2), Marais