Double Delight for Cheetahs and Kings in Guinness PRO14
It was a memorable Guinness PRO14 weekend for the Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs as they produced the goods to secure rewarding victories against Edinburgh and Zebre Rugby Club respectively.
In Port Elizabeth, a try in the dying minutes by Kings speedster Yaw Penxe steered them to a bonus-point 25-21 victory on Saturday evening for their first win against Edinburgh.
Earlier on Saturday, the Cheetahs created opportunities at will and capitalised on them against Zebre in Bloemfontein for a comprehensive 61-28 victory, which not only maintained their dominance against the side from Parma, but was also their third win in a row.
The clash between the Kings and Edinburgh was competitive and physical from the outset, with the sides each scoring one try in the first half compliments of Bjorn Basson and Christopher Dean respectively. Two penalty goals by Masixole Banda, however, pushed the hosts 13-7 ahead at the break.
Edinburgh applied pressure throughout the second half using their powerful forwards, but the home side stood their ground on defence and managed to shut them out on a number of occasions.
Edinburgh took the lead for the first time in the 62nd minute after being awarded a penalty try shortly after the Kings were reduced to 14 men, and then scored another seven minutes later, but it was high drama in the closing minutes as the home side refused the lie down.
The Kings’ Bader Pretorius crashed over the chalk in the 75th minute – while Edinburgh were down to 14 men – to reduce their deficit to 21-20, which fuelled their motivation to sneak through for the win. And they did just that as Penxe used his raw pace on the wing to dive over for a 25-21 lead with three minutes to play. They managed to hold on to the ball till the final whistle to claim their second win of the season.
In Bloemfontein, the Cheetahs romped to nine tries and looked in total control as early as the 30th minute. Rabz Maxwane, Malcolm Jaer, Sintu Manjezi, and Abongile Nonkontwana all touched down in the first half, while the visitors only managed to breach the defence once, which saw the Free Staters enter the break 26-7 ahead.
The Toyota Cheetahs maintained this solid form in the second half as their forwards and backs continued to make their presence felt in a balanced display, and this paved the way for Ox Nche and Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Junior Pokomela and Shaun Venter – who scored twice – to join the try-scorers list.
Zebre tried hard to force their way back into the game, and they earned three second-half tries to secure their bonus point, but they were unable to contain the in-form Cheetahs, and had to settle for a disappointing defeat.
In the other matches, the Glasgow Warriors ground out a narrow win over 9-3 Ospreys at home, Leinster defeated the Scarlets 22-17 in Dublin, Ulster and Benneton played to a 17-17 draw in Belfast, Munster pipped the Dragons 8-7 in Newport, and the Cardiff Blues came out 8-7 victors against Connacht on their home patch.
Isuzu Southern Kings vs Edinburgh
Kings: 25 (13) – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Bader Pretorius, Yaw Penxe, Conversions: Masixole Banda (2). Penalty Goals: Masixole Banda (2).
Edinburgh: 21 (7) – Tries: Christopher Dean, Ross Ford. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (2).
Toyota Cheetahs vs Zebre Rugby Club
Cheetahs; 61 (26) – Tries: Ox Nche, Sintu Manjezi, Junior Pokomela, Abongile Nonkontwana, Rabz Maxwane, Benhard Janse Van Rensburg, Malcolm Jaer, Shaun Venter (2). Conversions: Tian Schoeman (8).
Zebre: 28 (7) – Tries: George Fabio Biagi, Johan Gert Meyer, Paula Balekana, Apisai Tauyavuca. Conversions: Carlo Canna (4).