PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) — The Sharks won a third successive match to start Super 15 rugby when they overcame another impressive performance from newcomers the Southern Kings by 21-12 on Saturday.
The only other unbeaten teams were the ACT Brumbies, and the Blues and Bulls who meet in Auckland on Sunday.
The visiting Sharks went tryless for a second straight match — in fact, are tryless for the last 194 minutes — and relied again on the boot of Springboks flyhalf Pat Lambie, who nailed six penalties and a dropped goal.
To their credit, though, the Sharks also haven't conceded a try in their last two matches.
"We made it tough for ourselves out there and each week we have had opportunities which we've battled to convert, but credit to the Kings, there was great defense from them," Sharks captain Frans Steyn said.
Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis kicked all four penalties for the Kings, who played even better than in their win on debut over the Western Force a fortnight ago. The Kings made more than 100 tackles against the Force, and notched 107 against the Sharks, missing only one against the 2012 finalists.
The Sharks had one try disallowed and were held up over the tryline three more times. Their failure to cross, especially during nearly eight minutes of sustained pressure at the end of the first half, drove Lambie to a dropped goal to close the half, a concession to frustration in the face of the Kings' terrific commitment.
The longer they held on, the more the gutsy Kings grew in confidence and thrilled the home crowd of 42,000 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
"There was no lack of effort," Kings captain Darron Nell said. "The boys put everything on the line."
Lambie and Catrakilis didn't miss a shot at goal. Lambie missed a penalty at the start of the second half, but was given a second chance when the Kings were adjudged to have charged him too early. Lambie's last penalty at the end of the match denied the Kings a bonus point.
Sharks fullback Louis Ludik had a try disallowed in the ninth minute because of a forward pass, and Ludik was denied again when he was held up at the end of the half. Left wing Lwazi Mvovo was held up in the 52nd by Catrakilis.
Sharks 21 (Pat Lambie 6 penalties, dropped goal), Southern Kings 12 (Demetri Catrakilis 4 penalties). HT: 12-3