SA Kings claim Nations Cup crown
June 19, 2011
South African Kings centre Siyanda Grey sprints away to score his record-breaking sixth try in the 2011 IRB Nations Cup © IRB
The South African Kings defeated a gallant Portugal side 39-12 at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest to claim the 2011 IRB Nations Cup title.
The Kings shrugged off the loss of outstanding No.8 Luke Watson, who was taken ill on the eve of the match, to power to victory with centre Siyanda Grey leading the way with two tries. The Kings, who accounted for World Cup-bound duo Georgia and Romania in their earlier clashes, started well and scored a couple of tries in the first half through props Jaco Engles and Clint Newland.
The Portuguese answered in kind with two tries of their own through lock forwards Eduardo Acosta and Juan Severino, but the third South African try, by blindside flanker Jacques Potgieter, put them in control. In the second half, the South African pack dominated proceedings and Grey's two tries took his tally to six for the tournament, the highest this year and in IRB Nations Cup history. Portugal battled bravely, particularly back-row forwards Laurent Balangue, Vasco Uva and Jacques Le Roux, but they conceded too many turnovers in the final quarter to take advantage of their industry.
Kings captain Mzwandie Stick heaped praise on his side following their victory. "This was a good win, the third of the tournament and I am happy for the boys," he said. "We had lost our way in the first half but there were a few words from the coach at half time and we regained structure after the break. It was very hot and this was a very intense, physical torunament. I am delighted."
Portugal coach Errol Brain, whose side were still in contention for the title coming into the game, looked for positives in defeat. "We lost our composure in the second half," he admitted. "We started to ignore the game plan, which we adhered to in the first half, started to run laterally instead of running straight and so on.
"The heat took its toll and we made two silly mistakes but in fairness we must say that we played against a better side and they deserved to win. I am delighted with the progress of this young team. This is the kind of rugby Portuguese rugby needs to make progress and I am very happy for the boys," he added.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.