South Africa's Southern Kings made a stunning Super Rugby
debut with a 22-10 victory over Australia's Western Force at
the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Winger Sergeal Petersen, still a schoolboy two months ago,
scored a brace of tries while the boot of flyhalf Demitri
Catrakilis added four penalties.
The Port Elizabeth-based side have replaced the Lions in this
year's Super Rugby competition but were expected to struggle
with an inexperienced squad under New Zealand-born coach Matt
However, what they lacked in star quality they made up for
with a high work-rate and structured defence.
"We knew it was our crucial to get a win today to get the
public behind us," Kings centre Andries Strauss said. "We
must keep our feet on the ground, it is only our first step
into this competition.
"There is still big pressure on us but I hope we can take the
momentum from this win further into the competition."
Petersen scored his side's first points in the competition
when he showed great anticipation to run in a try. Force
winger Alfie Mafi dithered over collecting a charged-down
grubber and Petersen nipped the ball from his grasp and ran
The score was against the run of play and the Perth-based
side began to flex their muscles. They took the ball through
the phases from a scrum in the Kings' 22 and Pek Cowan scored
with a pick-and-go from the base of the ruck.
Six minutes later, the Australians were in again and once
more it came from patient buildup play. Mafi completed the
try in the corner as they spread the ball wide.
All three tries went unconverted and the Force led 10-5 at
The home side had suffered a blow in the first half when
captain Luke Watson was forced off just past the half-hour
mark with a throat injury and did not return.
But, if they were second best in the first half, the Kings
put in a gutsy display after halftime to score 14 unanswered
"We spoke at halftime about keeping the ball better and
putting pressure on the Force and we did that," Strauss said.
Catrakilis added two penalties to give his side the lead,
before Hugh McMeniman received a yellow card for a high
tackle on Ronnie Cooke.
With the Force a man down, the lead was extended when
Petersen scored his second try on the hour mark. Kings
scrumhalf Shaun Venter coughed up the ball over the goalline,
but the home side won it back following a Force knock-on and
spread the ball wide.
Petersen kept Will Tupou at bay with an excellent hand-off
before darting in at the corner.
"It is an incredible start to my Super Rugby career. It gives
me great passion and heart to know that I am coming from this
region. We are such a unit, playing in this team is a dream,"
The Force were penalised at the scrum twice in quick
succession, with Catrakilis slotting both kicks to take the
score to 22-10 and out of sight of their visitors.