In Port Elizabeth, Wesley Dunlop kicked a penalty goal in the 80th minute to give the EP Kings a 20-20 draw against the Pampas XV, the former Vodacom Cup champions from Argentina, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
After leading the game 14-9 going into the second half EP Kings lengthened the lead to 17-9 off a Scott van Breda penalty only to have the Pampas score two penalties off the boot of Benjamin Madero and see Manuel Montero cross EP’s line to go 20-17 ahead. It was only in the dying seconds that Wesley Dunlop decided to bang the ball over between the poles to be satisfied with a draw against the men from Argentina.
In the Northern Section of the Vodacom Cup half the teams kicked the season off with a full house of five log points, but in the South the Sharks XV are on their own at the top of the log.
Defending Vodacom Cup champions, DHL Western Province, found the going tough in their opening match of the season as they fought back to draw with a spirited Regent Boland Cavaliers team in Ceres.
The log jam in the north was thanks to bonus-point wins on Saturday afternoon for the Steval Pumas, Down Touch Griffons, MTN Golden Lions and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The Steval Pumas were simply way too strong for the Valke in Nelspruit and scored 10 tries en route to a 62-0 victory, with Uzair Cassien (flank) getting the first hat-trick of the 2013 Vodacom Cup season in the 46th minute of this encounter.
Hot on their heels were the Down Touch Griffons, who taught new boys, the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, what Vodacom Cup rugby is all about with an emphatic 50-15 win in Polokwane. Nicky Steyn scored three tries for the visitors.
At Pirates Rugby Club in Johannesburg, the MTN Golden Lions beat their western neighbours, the Leopards XV, by 45-15, scoring seven tries in the process.
But probably most impressive were the Vodacom Blue Bulls, who overcame a tricky hurdle when they beat GWK Griquas, four time Vodacom Cup champions, by 40-32 in Kimberley. The visitors scored six tries to five – two of these in the final five minutes of the match – as they had to fight back to get their season off to a perfect start.
DHL Western Province needed a late try by Jody Reyneke and conversion by Gary van Aswegen to draw level with Regent Boland Cavaliers in front of more than 7,500 people in picturesque Ceres.
Supporters of the home team thought the Cavaliers were going to score an upset victory when Ashton Constant scored a converted seven minutes from full-time, but the Capetonians did not let up and pulled level with less than three minutes left on the clock.
On Friday, the Sharks XV and Toyota Free State XV kicked their campaigns off with impressive away victories over the Border Bulldogs and SWD Eagles respectively.
The KwaZulu-Natalians ran in 10 tries as Fred Zeilinga contributed 32 of their points in a 72-6 rout of the Bulldogs in Durban.
Down the N2, in George, the Free Staters only managed three tries, but still beat the Eagles comfortably by 31-8. Tewis de Bruyn kicked 16 points for the visitors.
Scorers – EP Kings 20 (14) Pampas XV 20 (9):
- EP Kings – Try: Siviwe Soyizwapi. Penalties: Wesley Dunlop (4), Scott van Breda.
- Pampas – Try: Manuel Montero. Penalties: Benjamin Madero (5).
Eastern Province are lying tie 3rd on the log with 2 points