A trip to Irish province Connacht at the end of the month will give the Isuzu Southern Kings an opportunity to take what their coach Robbi Kempson regards as their next step in the Guinness PRO14.
The former Springbok prop was rightly elated after having to bite his nails in the tense final minutes of his team’s 16-14 win over the Ospreys in Swansea last weekend. In a game played in inclement conditions, the Kings built up enough of a buffer in the first half, where they led 13-0, to hang on with desperate but impressive defence when the Ospreys forwards were dominant in the second half.
While Kempson praised his team and lauded them for the commitment they showed in their gutsy win, what he would like to see now that they have broken their duck when it comes to winning on the road in the competition is for them to make an adjustment to their thinking when they do go into a lead.
“I think a big learning from this game is that in future when we get a lead we must rather try and extend it as opposed to sitting back a bit,” said Kempson.
“I felt against the Ospreys that we were guilty of falling into the mind-set of wanting to defend the lead once we were ahead. That can be a mistake, and it nearly was against the Ospreys. But we had a young team playing for us and it will be a learning for them.”
The Kings have been ravaged by injuries in the pre-season and Kempson will be hoping that some of his walking wounded return to action before they head overseas again in the last week of November for the one-off clash with Connacht.
The Kings have yet to beat Connacht in the competition, and have scored four tries against eight in the two matches the two teams have played against one another, with Connacht winning comfortably (31-14) when they last met, which was in Port Elizabeth last November.
Connacht themselves beat the Ospreys in Swansea fairly recently, winning 20-10 just under two weeks ago, but when the Kings’ fellow South African team, the Toyota Cheetahs, visited Connacht the week before that they were considered unlucky to lose by just two points (24-22). So the Kings might see just the inkling of an opportunity on 30 November to build on their solitary win in the season so far.
Although they did lose by 50 to top team Glasgow Warriors in the middle match of their three game tour they showed plenty of promise in their six point defeat to Italian team Benetton in the opener.