The return PRO14 derby between the Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs has seen temperatures rising after Kings coach Robbi Kempson accused the latter of deliberately targeting his players with physicality.
And Kempson warned that come this weekend’s return match in Bloemfontein, the Kings’ won’t stand back.
“The criticism came completely from their side and in particular Sintu Manjezi. The manner in which he behaved was disgusting. The ref let him get away with it from the start to the end. All the scuffles were started by the Cheetahs and if they want to play that way then my team can do the same,” Kempson said after his side’s 31-30 loss to the Cheetahs.
“I’m very happy for confrontation on their part but they can expect us to come hard at them next week.
The Kings’ coach warned that his side would not be on the receiving end of abuse if the match officials didn’t step in and prevent it.
“The time for us sitting back and taking all this abuse from teams, and we are not allowed to retaliate, I think that time has come to an end. If they want to box that way, we are very happy to stand toe to toe.”
Kempson wasn’t happy with the loss, after leading 30-12 in the 71st minute, to lose by a single point, but said he was more angry about losing than anything else.
“Probably more anger than heartbreak. That is a game we could have, should have won, but did not win. But individual mistakes cost the team and we have to look at those individual mistakes and make adjustments for the sake of the team that is much more important than the individual,” he explained.
“All their points came from our mistakes. They never created anything with regard to scoring tries, other than the rolling maul, which is boring at best. I think we had the upper hand in defence. Physically we were harder than them and you could see that from the number of guys who went off the field,” he noted.
Kempson said he was proud of the side as they defended ferociously.
“The most important thing was the way these guys climbed in on defence because they are one of the best attacking teams in the competition. The way our boys defended just shows character. They are climbing in, they are playing for the jersey but we are not getting the rub of the green in certain circumstances, but for that, you can’t fault the players.
“Losing in the last minute is heart-breaking but from my perspective and the team’s perspective, they let one get away that they should have comfortably won. They put themselves in a good position to do that, but unfortunately, a few errors crept in the latter part and that, unfortunately, gave us the result we didn’t want,” he added.