Scrumhalf injury blows for Kings
Port Elizabeth - Rugby's first-ever PRO14 championship matchat the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele on Saturday produced a 12-try thriller that had the crowd on the edge of their seats right until the very last minute but, unfortunately, it ended in a narrow 43-36 defeat for the Southern Kings at the hands of Irish visitors, Ulster.
The Kings led 22-10 at the break courtesy of a try each by Burton Klaasen, Yaw Penxe and Michael Makase.
A strong Ulster comeback resulted in a frenetic second-half and, despite Klaasen and Penxe each dotting down again, it was a 75th minute try for Ulster by former Western Province number 8 Robbie Diack that finally settled matters in their favour.
The result means that the Kings pick up their first bonus points of the season - 1 for scoring 4 tries and 1 for losing by 7 points or less.
Coach Deon Davids admitted after the game that he thought it was a match that "the Kings had lost rather than that Ulster had won" and bemoaned a few basic errors by his side.
"There was a lot that we did well today but to make the step up to the next level requires every kick to be sound as well as every pass and every catch," he said.
"These are fundamentals that have to be in place and that we have to get right. We scored some great tries today but then often immediately conceded gain due to poor basics.
"Instead of being way out in front and forcing Ulster to play catch-up rugby we allowed them to stay in the game. We should have buried them early on and we did not - that came back to hurt us."
To make matters worse, the Kings leave the match with a couple of injuries at scrumhalf.
"We have a potential headache at scrumhalf as both Rudi Van Rooyen and his replacement Rowan Gouws sustained injuries during the encounter," team doctor Clement Plaatjies said.
"Van Rooyen had been concussed during the match while Gouws had sustained a Grade 1 sprain to his right ankle.
"Rudi’s injury is the more serious of the two, he is still experiencing headaches and neck spasms and only once he is symptom-free for a week will we be able to start with his return-to-play protocol.
"In Rowan’s case we’ve decided to give him a week off from training and are confident that should be enough to see him ready and available for selection for the next match against Scarlets on the 26."
Loosehead prop and stand-in captain Schalk Ferreira has also been excused from training this week due to a contusion to his right thigh but Plaatjies stressed that this was just precautionary.
"Schalk has put in plenty of minutes of playing time this season and worked extremely hard so he deserves some time off. He will be ready for Scarlets," said the doctor.
The only other concern for the Kings medical team was loose-forward Andisa Ntsila who is carrying a niggling knee injury.
On the plus side, Plaatjies reported that flyhalf Martin Du Toit, who sustained a concussion against Glasgow Warriors a fortnight ago, had recovered and been symptom-free for a week and was thus due to resume training on Thursday.