Southern Kings 38
Glasgow Warriors 28
IF you are going to throw in one truly dreadful performance at some stage of the season, you might as well make it when the damage can be quickly rectified. Or at least, that is just about the only consoling thought that Glasgow could take from this desperately poor affair at Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
After falling behind 31-0 against opponents who only won once in the whole of last season, the Warriors did at least manage to put in a strong enough finish to come away with a try bonus, and they are still top of PRO14 Conference A after winning their previous three games. DTH van der Merwe got two of the four tries, his second being his 50th for the team, while the others came from Nick Grigg and Fraser Brown.
There was a first competitive start for Nick Frisby, a debut off the bench for Robbie Nairn, and a second debut, also off the bench, for Kevin Bryce after his return from Edinburgh. But while those were no doubt memorable moments for the individuals in question, for the team as a whole this is one game they would happily never be reminded of again.
You suspect, however, that Dave Rennie will not let them forget some of the things that went wrong here. The coach admitted he was concerned by the widespread nature of those errors, and accepted that it was by some way the worst his team had played since he arrived a year ago.
“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely,” he said. “It’s difficult to find the right words, to be honest. Hugely disappointing – a really flat performance. Everything that the Kings threw at us we expected. They’ve got a fair bit of firepower out wide, we allowed them into the game early and they got confidence from that.
“A combination of really poor defence and just not working hard enough for each other put us under a lot of pressure. We didn’t look after the ball.
“Yeah. I’m disappointed. We worked so hard over the off season, and in the first three weeks we’ve been pretty clinical and been able to build pressure. But a lot of that disappeared today. It’s a harsh lesson.”
“We believe we’ve got depth throughout the squad in multiple positions, and the expectation was that some guys got an opportunity today to step up,” he continued, referring to his having made nine changes to the starting line-up fron the side that beat the Cheetahs last week. “Losing at any time hurts, but hopefully we’ll learn from this. What it says for us is that regardless of who you’re playing, if you don’t front, with or without the ball, you’re going to get stung. That’s what happened to us today.
“There’s not a lot of talking going on in the changing room. There’s obviously huge disappointment.”
On their heels
A sluggish and befuddled start saw Glasgow concede three tries in the first quarter as the Kings picked off errors and were able to counter-attack with devastating speed at times. The South Africans thought they had claimed the bonus-point try midway through the half when centre Harlon Klaasen touched down, but the TMO disallowed the score for a knock-on back inside the home team’s half. That was one encouraging sign for Glasgow, and another came when Yaw Penxe was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on. Within two minutes they thought they had scored when Grigg rounded off a drive, but this time, too, it was chalked off for a knock-on in the build-up.
Glasgow had scored three tries when a man up last week, but this time they did not manage a point. To make matters worse, within a minute of Penxe’s return Adam Ashe conceded a penalty 30 metres out. Banda added the three points to round off a desperately inept first 40 for the Warriors.
On the front foot
The second half began more positively, and Ali Price injected some much-needed urgency into proceedings when he came on. But the previous pattern of errors soon resumed, and in 52 minutes Klaasen scored after collecting his own chip ahead from inside his own half.
With the Kings’ Henry Brown in the bin for a cynical offside tackle on Price, Ruaridh Jackson got over the line but the grounding was inconclusive. At least that gave Glasgow a scrum five, from which Grigg scored off first phase.
Van der Merwe got another try three minutes later after Adam Hastings had floated a pass out to him, but with Brown back on the Kings were able to slow the game down, and when Du Toit got his own second try and their fifth, any thoughts of a fightback were over.
There was time for the Warriors to get a try bonus, however, and after Fraser Brown got their third from a lineout drive, Godlen Masimla was binned as the Kings struggled to keep their shape. It was then left to Van der Merwe to claim the fourth in stoppage time and salvage no more than a modicum of respectability from an abysmal afternoon.
Southern Kings: M Banda; Y Penxe, H Klaasen, B Klaasen, B Basson; M du Toit, R van Rooyen; S Ferreira, M Willemse, L Pupuma, B de Wee, J Astle, H Brown, A Ntsila, R Lerm. Subs: A van Rooyen,J Forwood, M Dreyer, S Greeff, C Velleman, G Masimla, N Dukisa, M Botha.
Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; T Seymour, H Jones, N Grigg, D van der Merwe; P Horne, N Frisby; J Bhatti, G Turner, D Rae, G Peterson, S Cummings, R Wilson, C Fusaro, A Ashe. Subs: F Brown, A Allan, K Bryce, R Harley, C Gibbins, A Price, A Hastings, R Nairn.
Southern Kings: Tries: Penxe, Du Toit 2, Van Rooyen, H Klaasen. Cons: Banda 5. Pen: Banda.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Grigg, Van der Merwe 2, Brown. Cons: Hastings 4.
Scoring sequence (Kings first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 21-0, 24-0 half-time, 29-0, 31-0, 31-5, 31-7, 31-12, 31-14, 36-14, 38-14, 38-19, 38-21, 38-26, 38-28.
Yellow cards –
Kings: Penxe, Brown, Masimla.
Referee: A Brace (Ireland).