The Southern Kings couldn’t recover from conceding three first-half tries as they went down 29-13 in the PRO14 to the Dragons in Newport, Wales on Saturday night.
In a match played in driving rain and strong wind at Rodney Parade in south Wales, the South African side put in an honest effort and weren’t overawed by the opposition or the alien conditions.
Their workmanlike pack of forwards tried to take the game to the Dragons in the first half, but their handling let them down as they battled to hold on to the slippery ball.
The Welsh team had a few South Africans in their line-up, including former Stormers stalwart prop Brok Harris and Griquas scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, and both those players performed key roles for the hosts.
After Kings flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet put the visitors ahead with a fourth-minute penalty, the Dragons pounced from the subsequent kickoff as they took advantage of Kings No 9 Godlen Masimla dropping the ball, and worked the ball to the sidelines for left wing Hallam Amos to dive over in the corner.
Former Wales Test centre Gavin Henson, who plays at flyhalf these days, slotted the conversion and a penalty 10 minutes later to put the Dragons 10-3 up.
The bad weather made it difficult for both teams to get their attacking play going, resulting in a stop-start match.
But while De Wet added a second penalty to reduce the deficit to four points, the Dragons blitzed the Kings with two tries in the last five minutes of the first half.
Hooker Elliott Dee fell over from a driving maul, and then Amos got his second after a good break by Pretorius.
The Kings were always going to find it tough to get back into the game from being 22-6 down at halftime.
Things worsened in the first few minutes of the second when Dee went over for another maul try.
The Kings defended courageously at times, and were rewarded for their efforts when loose forward Andisa Ntsila crossed the line from a maul as well to give the Port Elizabeth-based team renewed hope.
But with the rain never abating, they found it difficult to put any meaningful phases together, and the Dragons kept them out for the rest of the match to record just their second victory of the competition.
Scorers: Dragons 29 (22): Tries: Hallam Amos (2), Elliott Dee (2). Conversions: Gavin Henson (3). Penalties: Henson (1).
Southern Kings 13 (6): Tries: Andisa Ntsila. Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (1). Penalties: De Wet (2). – African News Agency (ANA),