The stats tell the story of the Southern Kings’ agonising loss to the Cheetahs in Friday night’s derby.
The Free State team won the scrappy match 24-17 when Luan de Bruin ironically scored the winning try. It followed a Cheetahs forward drive in the 86th minute, 13 minutes after de bruin was yellow-carded in the 72th minute for collapsing a Kings driving maul that cost his side a penalty try.
That put the two sides on 17 points each, but in the end justice was done with the best team taking the spoils.
One can begin by pointing out that the Kings were never ahead in the match and until the last seven minutes or so never looked like leading.
They lost every contest up front, from the frist phase possession and especially the scrums were they, once again in a season of scrummaging woes, came off second best, to the turovers conceded and won.
They overall had less possession and carried the ball only 220 metres to 509 metres by the Cheetahs, according to the official Pro14 match stats; they had to tackle 160 times to the Cheetahs 96, missing 20 (12%) of their tackles to the four (3%) by the Cheetahs.
And their other greatet weakness this season, their discipline, again cost the Kings dearly. They conceded an unacceptable 18 penalties, “outscoring” the Cheetahs who were also into unwanted double figures with their 12 penalties (and two yellow cards) in a match that rarely reached the heights expected of teams in this competition.
The first 12 minutes or so promised an open match and a huge win for the Cheetahs with the poor defence by the Kings, who did improve in thios respect as the match wore on. But poor handling by both sides marred a contest that was played in typical uncompromising derby fasion.
The best team won, and the Cheetahs are now getting to the point where they can conceivably start believing that they could make the Pro14 play-offs for the second year running.
Points scorers ‒
Kings: Tries: Ntabeni Dukisa, penalty try. Conversion: Masixole Banda. Penalty: Banda.
Cheetahs: Tries: Rabz Maxwane, Junior Pokomela, Luan de Bruin. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2), Louis Fouche. Penalty: Benhard Van Rensburg.