The Kings’ return to Super Rugby wasn’t a happy one, after suffering a 43-8 loss to the visiting Sharks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Outscored six tries to one the Kings looked far off the pace, living up to pre-season expectations that they may struggle in 2016.
That was all after scoring the game’s first try by Chris Cloete, giving them hope, but unfortunately from then on the traffic was one-way.
Gary Gold’s Sharks are looking to become competitive again following a dire 2015 campaign and this was a bright enough start.
A try for new signing and Springbok full-back Willie le Roux was the highlight of a comprehensive victory, and their try bonus point too may prove to be important in the long run.
Early intent from the Kings was clear after Elgar Watts kicked to the corner from a penalty, two successful drives from the pack resulting in Cloete barging his way over.
Watts couldn’t convert but his counterpart Joe Pietersen had more success with a first penalty attempt, making it 5-3.
Le Roux then showed his new side what he can offer them in open space with his first break up the touchline, the Sharks then putting it through the hands for Odwa Ndungane to finish.
An infringement at the breakdown allowed the Kings to level things up through a Watts penalty before the half-hour mark at 8-8.
But it was the power of young flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, with his twin Daniel starting at number eight, which enabled the Sharks to take the lead back before half-time when he powered over, Pietersen converting for a 15-8 advantage.
The Sharks and Le Roux came out fast at the start of the second half as the full-back stepped inside Watts for try number three, before Paul Jordaan made it four when he burst through off a good line by Pietersen.
Lacking execution the Kings just couldn’t finish off any of their promising build-up play, as Pietersen converted again to make it 36-8 heading into the final quarter.
Despite a gap in the scoring the Kings couldn’t improve their tally, with a second score for Ndungane, set up by Jordaan, rounding off a one-sided affair.
The Kings did their best to find a consolation score in the final seconds but were let down by their handling yet again, rounding off a sobering first game of the year for the team and their supporters.
Tries: Ndungane 2, JL du Preez, Le Roux, Jordaan, Mvovo
Cons: Pietersen 5
Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 TBC, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Cyril-John Velleman, 21 Leighton Eksteen, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Charles Radebe
Sharks: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (c)
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Dave McDuling, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 S’bura Sithole
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker