Cronje kicks Kings to victory
SUPER RUGBY MATCH REPORT: Captain and flyhalf Lionel Cronje kicked the match-winning penalty in the 82nd minute as the Southern Kings edge the Bulls 31-30 in Pretoria on Saturday.
On a day of refereeing shockers, Argentinean match official Federico Anselmi and South African television match official Johan Greeff contributed with two crucial calls.
The second of those two was the penalty that allowed Cronjé to kick the winning points.
The kick followed a controversial decision that led to a five-metre scrum at which the Bulls were penalised.
After watching big-screen replays, the Argentine referee judged that Bulls flank Jannes Kirsten had touched the ball before it trickled out of ball, leading to the set-piece.
Despite the controversy, Cronje and the Kings certainly made some BIG statements.
Cronje left the Bulls with egg over their collective faces, as he scored 21 points - through a try, two conversions, three penalties and a drop-goal - to hand the Bulls their 10th defeat of the season.
It must have been even sweeter for Viljoen, who was discarded by the Bulls not so long ago.
The Kings may not attract the big money or spectators of the other franchises, but they have outperformed one of the big guns of South African rugby - the Bulls - just a day after their axing was confirmed.
With reports that they will soon be playing in European competitions - like the Pro12/14 and Euro Challenge Cup - the Kings showed they can add value wherever they end up.
That is if they are able to retain all the players.
They have already lost the services of star loose forward Chris Cloete to Munster.
A maiden victory over three-time former champions the Bulls placed Kings 11th in the overall standings, ahead of four Australian and two South African teams plus the Japanese Sunwolves.
The revival by the side from Port Elizabeth began with a victory over the Waratahs in Sydney and last weekend they defeated the Jaguares in Argentina.
The Kings raced to a 22-3 lead, before a Jason Jenkins try for the hosts trimmed the gap to 12 points at half-time.
Bulls were much improved in the second half as they sought to build on a shock away victory over the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
They nudged into a 23-22 lead on 66 minutes when flyhalf Tian Schoeman slotted his third penalty only for Cronje to kick a drop-goal a minute later to put the Kings ahead again.
Cronje added a penalty for a five-point advantage that was overtaken when hooker Jaco Visagie barged over and Schoeman converted for a 30-28 lead with two minutes remaining.
The Kirsten incident followed and Cronje scored to give the Kings victory by the same score that brought them success in Buenos Aires last weekend.
Man of the match: Jan Serfontein continued his good form, while there was strong work from Adriaan Strauss at the breakdown and a few good carries. Lock Rudolph Snyman - with his enormous workrate and that crucial ankle tap late in the first half that allowed his team to get back in the game - was the home team's most productive player. The work-rates of flank Chris Cloete and lock Lubabalo Mtyanda was invaluable to the Kings. Our award goes to Kings captain and flyhalf Lionel Cronje - a masterclass in flyhalf play and kicking the winning points. We award it to him, despite the question mark over the penalty. He did not award it, he kicked it under tremendous pressure.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Jenkins, Matthews, Visagie
Cons: Schoeman 3
Pens: Schoeman 3
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Mapimpi, Cronje, Jaer
Cons: Cronje 2
Pens: Cronje 3
Yellow card: Jason Jenkins (Bulls, 22 - foul play, high tackle), Wandile Mjekevu (Southern Kings, 27 - foul play, high tackle), Lubabalo Mtyanda (Southern Kings, 65 - cynical foul, plating the ball on the ground)
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conrad van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Burger Odendaal.
Southern Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Schalk Ferreira, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Mzwanele Zito, 20. Thembelani Bholi, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Masixole Banda, 23. Yaw Penxe.
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)