Defying all odds, Sergeal Petersen scored two tries as the Kings powered to what many regarded as an unexpected 22-10 victory over the Force.
Petersen, in school last year, dotted down in each half as the Kings turned a 10-5 half-time deficit into a 12-point victory before a jubilant crowd at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth.
It was a truly amazing start for a side only elevated to Super Rugby late last year, and facing a promotion / relegation match against the Lions should they finish last in the SA conference this year.
Former Cheetahs centre Andries Strauss took over as captain when Luke Watson had to leave the field due to a knock to the neck after 30 minutes, and he revelled in the win as the Kings made a much better start than many people expected, given the inexperience of the squad.
“This was a match we had to win so that the public would support us and the players would believe in themselves. We have worked hard since last November and now we must fix the mistakes we made and try to win some more matches.”
Former Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis overcame early goal-kicking jitters to slot four penalties – Somewhat ironic given the kicking performance of new recruit Elton Jantjies for the Cape side on Friday.
The Force, who came second last ahead of the Lions last season, led 10-5 at the break through tries by loose-head prop Pek Cowan and left wing Alfie Mafi, but were let down by poor place kicking from Godwin and Sam Christie.
The Australians could not replicate the first half form after the interval and lock Hugh McMeniman was yellow carded on 54 minutes for a high, dangerous attempt to stop centre Ronnie Cooke.
Instead it was the home side pushing for a bonus point try when the final whistle went … A dream start for Alan Solomons’ men.
KINGS: Sergeal Petersen 2 tries; Demetri Catrakilis 4 pens
FORCE: Pek Cowan, Alfie Mafi tries
Crowd: 30 000