The Kings were beaten 45-24 at the Free State Stadium, with hooker Willemse feeling his team failed to capitalise on key moments in the game.
“We do need to be more composed when those moments – and when we have momentum – present themselves, and that’s what I feel we didn’t do,” he said.
“Composure and lack of belief is where we are costing ourselves, in my opinion.”
The home side scored six tries to the three recorded by the Kings but at half-time, the match was still very much in the balance, with the Cheetahs leading 24-17.
The Kings’ points had come via scores by centre Luzuko Vulindlu and prop forward Schalk Ferreira – both were converted by Ntabeni Dukisa, who also added a penalty goal.
Meanwhile, the hosts were in front thanks to a Nico Lee brace and a further try from Uzair Cassiem.
A reward for Tiene Burger’s gritty defensive work today for 🤴 @SouthernKingsSA.
The flanker gets the visitors’ third try in Bloemfontein 👏
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) January 20, 2018
The second half saw the Cheetahs apply much more pressure on and force some mistakes that they were able to capitalise on.
Tries by Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi, and Shaun Venter – fly-half Zeilinga also kicking six conversions – saw them out to a comfortable home win, with a late Kings score by Tienie Burger providing some consolation.
“Too often, we allow early scores against us and then have to play catch-up, which is not ideal,” said Kings head coach Deon Davids.
“It’s also frustrating to note how many of the Cheetahs scores came about not from set plays that fooled our defence but rather from broken-play situations, where we turned the ball back over to them and they punished us.”
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