Let’s face it, head coach Robbi Kempson is a man who knows his rugby and he has put in place all the right structures to make the Southern Kings a much improved team in the current PRO14 season
But still they were beaten 24-12 by Connacht in a PRO14 match in Galway on Saturday night, despite their undoubted improvement and all the challenges of not having the right (balanced) core and having to live off other teams’ scraps.
Mind you, that isn’t an inference that the players are not of the right quality. It is perhaps rather a case that, as a team they lack cohesion, that they are still looking to find themselves as a team at this level.
Too many individual mistakes, handling errors, a crucial missed lineout throw on the opponents’ line, a very high (17.5%) missed tackle rate with 20 from 114 missed and not finishing their chances cost them.
SA Rugby Communications report that the Southern Kings dominated possession and territory in the first half and forced Connacht to make many tackles but couldn’t finish the chances they created.
Connacht were exceptional as they played the territory game well in the second half to deny the Kings and record a solid victory.
“It was a good performance from us, especially regarding the fact we got physically stuck in,” said Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson afterwards.
“That is exactly what we wanted. We showed a bit of passion and pride and we knew that Connacht are a dangerous side, especially in the second half. They kept us well in our own half and played the territory well.
“In the second half we hardly got out of our half and into theirs and when we did, we didn’t use our opportunities. We made some mistakes unfortunately and we let ourselves down with our individual errors. We didn’t convert and that was the difference in the game.”
Kempson said while he was relatively happy despite the result, he felt the team’s attack needed to evolve more if they were to be competitive away from home.
“We are relatively happy, particularly with this performance – it’s never an easy place to play and from my perspective, our defence has grown,” he said.
“There is still more we can do on attack. To come out and play against the Irish sides and to be able to match them physically is something for a travelling side. That for me is a big positive and if we can maintain that level and standard then we can take that towards Edinburgh which will be another tricky one.”
Connacht (19) 12: Tries: Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham, John Porch (2). Conversions: Conor Fitzgerald.
Kings (12) 12: Tries: Erich Cronje, Scott van Breda. Conversion: Van Breda.