With ticket in hand I was prepared to watch the EP Kings play the Boland Cavaliers in the battle of the Vodacom up also-rans at the Nelson Mandlea Bay Stadium on Friday last.
Then I made the rookie mistake of sitting down in fronmt of the big screen and promptly fell asleep only to awake too late to make my way down to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. That is what you get for getting up at 3:00 am and going to work.
Anyway it appears that my actions resulted in EP’s lonely 2nd win of the competition so far as the Eastern Province Kings took advantage of their forward dominance to beat the Regent Boland Cavaliers 28-21 (halftime 10-8) in their Vodacom Cup rugby match.
It was a tough battle of the also-rans and one in which the Kings took control largely in the second half as their pack scrummed Boland into the ground.
The victory broke a three-match losing streak for the Kings but it was still not good enough to help them qualify for the quarterfinals, a milestone which is beyond their reach.
The flyhalves traded penalties to open the scoring with Boland’s Christiaan Rust slotting an attempt in the eighth minute and the Kings’ Ntabeni Dukisa levelling matters 10 minutes later.
The visitors made it clear from the start that they wanted to give the ball some air. They made the brighter start. They limited their players at the breakdown and fanned out wide on attack when the opportunities presented itself.
The Kings seemed to hang off the ball waiting for something to happen. It did, but not in their favour as Boland lock JC Astle crashed over for his team’s opening try following a quick-tap by scrumhalf Marnus Hugo in the 23rd minute.
The Cavaliers were dealt a blow shortly after the half hour, when tighthead prop Martin Dreyer received a yellow card for collapsing the scrum.
That disrupted the Cavaliers scrum and the Kings took advantage of their numerical numbers in that department forcing a penalty try in the 38th minute which Dukisa converted just before the break.
Boland regained the lead with a Rust penalty shortly after the restart but the Kings struck back in the 45th minute with a try from lock Cameron Lindsay who forced his way over from close out. Ntabeni added the two points. He also slotted a long-distance penalty to stretch the lead to 20-11.
Boland, however, were not going away and responded with an outstanding try by fullback Harlon Klaasen, who stepped off his left foot twice to leave the Kings’ defence flat-footed. Rust narrowed the gap to two points and then kicked a penalty as the visitors sneaked into the lead again.
Once again, the lead did not last too long as Dukisa landed another penalty two minutes later. The Kings wore Boland down up front and eventually sealed the win as replacement Siphe Punguzwa dotted down with a minute left on the stadium clock.
- EP Kings: Tries: Penalty Try, Cameron Lindsay, Siphe Punguzwa; Conversions: Ntabeni Dukisa (2); Penalties: Ntabeni Dukisa (3).
- Boland Cavailiers: Tries: JC Astle, Harlon Klaasen; Conversions: Christian Rust; Penalties: Christian Rust (3).
Too little too late for the EP Kings though who after 6 games have only 2 wins and 11 points for their 5th place in the South Section.
The EP Kings final spanking in this competition will be against the Cell C Sharks on 26 April at 16:30 in Growthpoint Kings Park Stadium, Durban. The Sharks have played 6, won 6 and are on first place on the log with 27 points. Who is quietly praying for a miracle?
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