Mbiyozo Man of the Match

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BYLINE: ASHFAK MOHAMED

PORT ELIZABETH: The Southern Kings huffed and puffed in their first-ever match, but it was not enough to grab victory as the British and Irish Lions' experience handed them a hard-fought 20-8 win at a chilly Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium yesterday.

The Kings played with great passion and commitment and got stuck into the Lions from the opening whistle. But the Lions' surge after halftime was enough to kill off the Kings, with an early penalty from replacement flyhalf Ronan O'Gara and a try to wing Ugo Monye giving them a 13-3 lead with 29 minutes left to play.

Referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try to the Lions after the Kings repeatedly collapsed the scrum, and that was the end of their challenge. There was some hope for the Kings when flank Mpho Mbiyozo scored in the corner with seven minutes remaining, but it was too late.

But the Kings can take great heart from their performance, while the Lions would have been disappointed for not dominating a makeshift side. The Kings were outstanding in hassling the Lions at the breakdowns, with Bok Sevens star Mbiyozo, who was voted the Man of the Match, and former Springbok Test flank Solly Tyibilika proving great nuisance value. Both men created some turnovers, while also slowing down the Lions' possession.

There was also tigerish defence around the fringes of the rucks. Props Jaco Engels and replacement Dean Greyling pulled off some big hits, and they were well supported by captain and hooker Derick Kuun and No 8 Darron Nel. They were quick to stop big Lions No 8 Andy Powell from getting over the advantage line.

Ross Skeate and Marco Wentzel put great pressure on the Lions at the lineouts and were also secure on the Kings' ball. Skeate, who is renowned for his contesting abilities in the lineouts, stood out in that facet and made life difficult for Simon Shaw and Donncha O'Callaghan.

The fact that the Kings had the edge in the lineouts was somewhat surprising considering the number of genuine jumpers the Lions had. …