Teenager Petersen stars as debutants Kings stun Force
KINGS 22 FORCE 10
Welcome to Super Rugby ... Star recruit Hugh McMeniman of the Force tackles SP Marais. Photo: Getty Images
PORT ELIZABETH: Teenager Sergeal Petersen scored two tries as the Kings of South Africa made a dream Super Rugby debut on Saturday with a 22-10 victory over the Force.
Petersen made a seamless transition from schools to provincial rugby union by touching down in each half as Kings turned a 10-5 half-time deficit into a 12-point victory before a jubilant 30,000 crowd.
His first try on 15 minutes gave Kings the lead and the second on 60 minutes stretched the lead to six points for an outfit elevated to the big time at the expense of the Lions despite being only a second-tier Currie Cup side.
Force lose to debutant Kings
Sergeal Petersen of Southern Kings tackles Will Tupou of Western Force. Photo: Getty Images
Petersen grabbed the loose ball after a kick by scrum-half Shaun Venter was parried to race over for the first and he side-stepped one Australian and handed off another to claim the second.
"You cannot ask for better than this," said Petersen after being voted man of the match, "and a big thank-you to everyone who supported us. We played as a team and that was what brought us victory."
Former Cheetahs centre Andries Strauss took over as skipper when Luke Watson was injured and he revelled in the win as the Kings made a much better start than many South Africans expected given the inexperience of the squad.
Two-try star Sergeal Petersen of Southern Kings contests a high ball. Photo: Getty Images
"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."
Five-eighth Demetri Catrakilis overcame early goal-kicking jitters to plant four penalty goals between the posts as Kings overcame the first half loss of flanker and talisman Watson.
The 29-year-old former Springbok took an accidental knock in the neck from centre Kyle Godwin, found breathing difficult and was forced to quit 32 minutes into a fiery game.
However, replacement Jacques Engelbrecht gave a stirring performance and his surge toward the try-line was the catalyst for the second try by Petersen on the hour mark.
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 second-choice 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.
KINGS 22 (Sergeal Petersen 2 tries; Demetri Catrakilis 4 pens) bt FORCE 10 (Pek Cowan, Alfie Mafi tries)
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