Kings win Singapore snorefest
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Southern Kings scored a 37-23 win over the Sunwolves in a scrappy encounter in Singapore on Saturday.
The two teams looked - and played - like sides that will be rotted at the bottom of the Super Rugby standings for most of the season.
The only difference is that the Kings made fewer mistakes and had the accurate boot of flyhalf LionelCronje to get them over the line.
Despite suffering a heavy injury toll and struggling to cope with Singapore's stifling humidity, the Kings outmuscled and outsmarted the Sunwolves to triumph in a high-scoring clash between the bottom two sides from last season.
The Kings got two first half tries from replacements Rudi van Rooyen and Chris Cloete against the run of play and two more in the second term from number eight Ruan Lerm and impressive winger Malcolm Jaer as they asserted their dominance.
The Sunwolves, whose only win in their debut Super Rugby season last year was against the Jaguares, showed a marked improvement on last week's humiliating 83-17 loss to the Hurricanes in Tokyo but coughed up too much ball and kicked away too much possession to mount a sustained challenge.
They did manage a first half try from bustling centre Timothy Lafaele and two late consolation touchdowns from Kenki Fukuoka and Takaaki Nakazuru but trailed throughout the match.
The Kings sprinted 90 metres to score the opening try on the counter-attack when the Sunwolves failed to clean up their own ruck ball after launching a promising raid.
Jaer scooped up a loose ball and darted down the blindside before offloading to replacement scrumhalf van Rooyen to score near the posts.
The Sunwolves hit back almost immediately and were rewarded for one of the few times in the match that they chanced their arm, when they opted for a quick tap and spun the ball wide to Lafaele who stepped inside a defender and crashed over the line.
Jaer, who caused the Sunwolves plenty of headaches every time he got the ball, set up a second try for another replacement just before the break. He split the defence off the back of a line-out and was dragged down inside the Sunwolves quarter, and Cloete, who had just come on the field, was the first to the breakdown and strolled through to score unopposed.
Lerm put the result beyond the doubt when he barged over from a rolling maul before a frantic ending which saw three tries in the last five minutes.
Fukuoka scored off an intercept then Jaer was rewarded for his fine efforts all night when he dived in the left corner before Nakazuru finished off the scoring with a try out wide on the siren.
Man of the match: It was not a match that inspired, although Masixole Banda Malcolm Jaer had their moments. The best of an ordinary bunch was Southern Kings flyhalf Lionel Cronje, the winner of our award.
For the Sunwolves:
Tries: Lafaele, Fukuoka, Nakazuru
Pens: Cripps 2
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Van Rooyen, Cloete, Lerm, Jaer
Cons: Cronje 4
Pens: Cronje 3
Sunwolves: 15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Will Tupou, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray,11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Akihisa Aso
TMO: Minoru Fuji