Griquas got the win but Southern Kings Director of Rugby Alan Solomons got questions answered in his team’s final Super Rugby pre-season outing.
Griquas scored late to win 30-27 and Solomons told Keo.co.za on the balance of performance the right team got the winning result.
‘Pre-season matches are about more than the result but every player and team wants a winning one,’ he said. ‘We did not get enough ball to enforce our way of play and all credit to the effort of Griquas. They dominated the lineout and denied us a platform. It is hard to play any game without ball from set piece and if the boys didn’t know that they certainly will now.’
The Kings historic Super Rugby debut is Solomons’ focus and he said bigger than the result in Port Elizabeth was that captain Luke Watson and lock Steven Sykes got through the match in what was their first appearance after lengthy injury lay-offs.
‘We gained from those objectives in that the players returning from injury got the necessary hit out, but in any sport the objective is to win. That we did not get and we did not deserve a winning result. There has never been any illusion about the challenge in Super Rugby proper but we will be in a position to field a match squad close to full strength. That wasn’t looking possible a few weeks ago.
‘It is a credit to our medical and conditioning staff and to the desire of the players.’
Solomons said he was thankful for the commitment of Griquas and how important the match would be in the mental preparation for the historic season opener in a week.
‘Griquas approached it like it was a Super Rugby match and it was the physical and mental preparation you can’t replicate at training. We’ve got lots to work with in the next week. But take nothing away from Griquas. They came here to win and they did so.’
The Kings play the Force in Port Elizabeth to start their Super Rugby history.
By Mark Keohane