The return of the Southern Kings to Super Rugby ended in disappointment with a comprehensive 43-8 loss to South African rivals the Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The visitors sealed their bonus-point victory thanks to tries from wingers Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo, flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, fullback Willie le Roux and centre Paul Jordaan. Flyhalf Joe Pietersen added five conversions and a penalty.
The home side were in the game at halftime as they trailed 15-8 having scored a try via flanker Chris Cloete and a penalty from flyhalf Elgar Watts, but lost their defensive shape as the visitors ran in three tries within 20 minutes of the restart.
The Kings had the better of the opening exchanges and took the lead inside nine minutes when Cloete drove over from a maul.
The Sharks began to take control of territory and possession, however, and Ndungane profited from a break by opposite wing Mvovo to score his first.
Du Preez stretched to dot down and give the Sharks the lead before Springbok fullback Le Roux scored a wonderful solo effort as he beat two defenders with a mazy run for the visitors’ third try.
The Sharks forward pack dominated and having mauled close to the Kings line, the ball went wide for Jordaan to canter over.
Mvovo added a fifth after showing some gas out wide, before Ndungane crossed in the corner to complete his brace.
The Port Elizabeth-based Kings’ build-up to the tournament was marred by financial difficulties that forced the South African Rugby Union to step in to administer the team.
They are playing in their second season of Super Rugby following the expansion of the competition having made their debut in 2013.