It has not been pretty for the Kings in their debut PRO14 season, but Friday night’s 59-10 hammering from Ulster might have been their worst performance to date.
Under the first-time captaincy of Alan O’Connor, Ulster began a new era following the departure of Les Kiss prior to this game. And they couldn’t have had a better first 40, which started with a Craig Gilroy try seven minutes in. He took the line off John Cooney to go through, with the latter adding the extras.
Masixole Banda cut the gap down to four with what turned out to be the only points Kings would record in a disappointing half. Stuart McCloskey quickly extended the advantage in a well worked move, Gilroy having the final assist as he went from scorer to provider. Cooney again added the two and he had another opportunity before the whistle.
Gilroy was playing a big part and he got his second try of the night right on the break, Cooney making it 21-3 at the break. And the bonus point quickly arrived with a couple of memorable tries. The first came two minutes into the second half when Johnny McPhillips rounded off his first senior start with a well taken finish. And the second of the half came as possession was exchanged right across the pitch, with Rob Lyttle taking the score up to 35-3.
Having been so pivotal in the first half, it was only right that Gilroy sealed his hat-trick early in the second. Cooney and McPhillips both did the work in the build up, before Gilroy rightly received the plaudits. Lyttle added yet another to make it 45-3, the Kings punished on the road yet again.
They did make double figures, their first try coming from Harlon Klaasen with 12 left to play. But it was barely even a consolation, especially as Kieran Treadwell took the hosts past the 50 points mark. Darren Cave completed the nine try rout, Ulster dominating throughout in a 59-10 win.
Tries: Gilroy 3, McCloskey, McPhillips, Lyttle 2, Treadwell, Cave
Cons: Cooney 7
Try: H Klaasen
Con: Janse van Rensburg
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nicl Timoney, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 John Andrew, 1 Andy Warwick
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Matthew Dalton, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Louis Ludik
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Anthonie Volmink, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby De Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Dayan Van der Westhuizen, 19 Jurie Van Vuuren, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Barend Janse van Rensburg, 23 Harlon Klaasen
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Shane Kierans (Ireland)