Kings put the Rebels to the sword
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Southern Kings returned home and claimed their first back-to-back victory in the competition when they ran riot and bagged a 44-3 bonus-point victory over the Rebels in Port Elizabeth.
While the Rebels offered token resistance, especially in the second half after trailing 3-11 at half-time, it was an impressive show from the Kings.
Victory for the Kings came a week after the traditional whipping boys among the six South African Super Rugby sides shocked the Waratahs in Sydney.
The Kings scored five tries during the second half at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
"Our minds were focused on the pitch," said Kings captain and flyhalf Lionel Cronje, referring to their likely end-of-season axing from the competition.
South Africa must shed two of their franchises as Super Rugby reduces from 18 sides to 15 next season and the Kings and Central Cheetahs are expected to be the victims.
Australia has to chop either the Rebels or the Western Force.
"This was a phenomenal effort by the guys. We are playing for each other and it shows on the scoreboard," Cronje added.
Rebels captain and flank Colby Fainga'a admitted that his team would have to face some "hard truths" when they review the match.
"We were not good enough," he admitted as a mini-revival that brought a win over the Brumbies and a draw with the Sharks ended.
"It was an extremely disappointing performance from us, particularly in the second half when we caved in. The guys must confront some hard truths when we watch a review of the game on video. Hopefully, we can move on and be ready for the Golden Lions at home next weekend."
Cronje set up fellow wing Wandile Mjekevu for the only try of the opening half and Cronje kicked two penalties. When fullback Reece Hodge slotted a penalty on 29 minutes to cut the deficit to five points, he could not have imagined that would be the only Rebels score.
Hooker Martin Bezuidenhout, flank Tyler Paul, replacement flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Mapimpi and fullback Masixole Banda scored second-half tries for the Kings.
Cronje converted one before being replaced by De Wet, who slotted three conversions.
Man of the match: Amanaki Mafi did all he could with some strong carries while Mitch Inman broke the advantage line. Captain Colby Fainga'a was their most industrious player as he put it all on the line. Andisa Ntsila put in the hard yards and was a thorn in the Rebels' side. Masixole Banda maintained a cool head when placed under pressure while Lionel Cronje's tactical kicking kept his side playing in the right areas of the field. Makazole Mapimpi was involved in almost each of his side's tries and remains a massive threat to any defence, thus wrapping up our award.
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Mjekevu, Bezuidenhout, Paul, de Wet, Mapimpi, Mbanda
Cons: Cronje, de Wet 3
Pens: Cronje 2
For the Melbourne Rebels:
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Justin Forwood.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Stefaan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Mick Snowden, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a (captain), 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Jack Debreczeni, 22 Will Miller, 23 Jackson Garden-Bachop.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)