Photo: Meli Rokoua Edinburgh.
The Isuzu Southern Kings earned their second win of the Guinness PRO14 2018/19 season when they came from behind to snatch a 25-21 victory over Scottish side, Edinburgh Rugby, at Madibaz Stadium on Saturday night.
It was again another never-say-die effort by the Port Elizabeth-based side, but this time instead if coming agonisingly close, the Isuzu Southern Kings were rewarding with their second win of the season – and also their second against a Scottish opponent after beating Glasgow Warriors at the same venue earlier in the season.
It was the Isuzu Southern Kings who opened the scoring when winger Bjorn Basson scored an impressive try in the fourth minute.
It did not take long before the visitors responded with a try of their own through centre Chris Dean. Jaco van der Walt converted.
Fullback Masixole Banda added two penalties before the break to give the Isuzu Southern Kings a 13-7 lead at half-time.
Edinburgh dominated possession and territory in the second half, spending close to 25 minutes after play resumed in the second stanza. The home side showed a gallant defensive effort as they kept their cool to defend over 30 phases until the visitors were rewarded with a penalty try in the 62nd minute for Edinburgh to gain the lead for the first time.
The game looked to be getting out of reach for the home side when substitute hooker Ross Ford scored his first Guinness PRO14 try in the 72nd minute to give Edinburgh a 13-21 lead following the conversion by Van der Walt.
The Isuzu Southern Kings’ replacements came to the party as their fresh legs gave the side a needed boost.
Replacement flyhalf Bader Pretorius scored on debut in the 75th minute as the home team forged a fightback.
Fijian Meli Rokoua showed his capabilities with great skill, and was rewarded when he superbly offloaded to Yaw Penxe, almost from the half-way mark on the field.
With a determined look and intent, Penxe was unstoppable as he bolted for the tryline to score the winning try in the 77th minute.
“I’m very proud of the effort that the guys put in. We really fought hard for the win and showed great composure in the second half. The guys who came off the bench made a big impact. They are young men, but they did what they were asked to do,” said Isuzu Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids after the game.
“Our defence improved tremendously. I was proud of the defensive effort even in the previous match against the Cheetahs. We defended over 30 phases and we kept the opposition out. When those things happen, it shows the character of the people in the team and how the boys are gelling together and how they are playing for each other.
“A guy like Meli Rokoua came out and showed his talent. We have been working really hard getting certain aspects of his game right. In this game he stepped up and showed us all what he can do. We need that X-factor in tight games like this, and he brought that. We had some excellent finishes from Bjorn Basson and Yaw Penxe which showed the magic that these boys can bring.”
The proud head coach added: “We never dropped our heads after losses. We knew we were close, and we worked hard. We knew what our issues were as a team. In this game again we struggled with our scrums, but the guys that came on really put in an effort and fight. This showed that there are things in our makeup that we can still work on.
“Playing against guys that have been unbeaten for a while and tipping them over shows the spirit that is in this camp and the belief that is there. We just want to look forward and build from this.”
The Isuzu Southern Kings will now begin preparations for their next fixture – a second South African derby against Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
ISUZU SOUTHERN KINGS
TRIES: Bjorn Basson, Bader Pretorius, Yaw Penxe
CONVERSIONS: Masixole Banda (2)
PENALTIES: Banda (2)
TRIES: Chris Dean, Penalty Try, Ross Ford
CONVERSIONS: Jaco van der Walt (2), Penalty Try