Marcell Coetzee scored one of Ulster’s three second-half tries as they beat the Kings 28-7 in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The much-favoured visitors started the game well, taking a nine-point lead through three penalties from scrumhalf John Cooney, but found the Kings’ defence tough to crack.
While it was an improved showing from the home side, they will be disappointed to walk away from the match without at least a losing bonus point, as they slumped in the final quarter of the match.
The overall tempo of the contest was not helped by both sides giving away a plethora of penalties, leaving referee Sam Grove-White with no choice but to reach into his pocket, yellow-carding Ulster lock Alan O’Connor and hooker Rob Herring as well as Kings flank Tienie Burger in the first half.
While Ulster dominated possession for much of the game, the Kings must be credited with some determined defending which forced the Irish side into errors.
Springbok fans watching the match would have been pleased with the form Coetzee showed in the match, with the flank scoring his side’s first try in the second half while also making a couple of crucial turnovers as the Kings grew into the match.
The Kings came out firing at the start of the second half and finally opened their account when hooker Michael Willemse crossed from the back of a powerful maul, with flyhalf Masixole Banda’s conversion making it a two-point game.
However, Ulster quickly regathered and extended their lead when Coetzee picked up from the back of a powerful 5m scrum to drive over for the visitor’s first try. They got their second soon after when replacement wing Angus Kernohan ran a clever wide line to score in the corner.
The visitors finished strongly, taking the ball through multiple phases in the Kings 22, with centre Angus Curtis finding a hole in the defence to sprint through and dot down to round off a comfortable win.
Kings – Try: Michael Willemse. Conversion: Masixole Banda.
Ulster – Tries: Marcell Coetzee, Angus Kernohan, Angus Curtis. Conversions: Billy Burns, Will Addison. Penalties: John Cooney (3).
Kings – 15 Michael Botha, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klassen, 12 Berton Klassen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Masixole Banda, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 JC Astle, 4 Bobby de Wee, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 X Vos, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Giant Mtyanda, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Martin du Toit, 23 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Ulster – 15 Will Addison; 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Henry Speight; 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Andy Warwick.
Subs: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Mattie Rea, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Angus Kernohan
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images