The Eastern Province Kings thrilled their home crowd as they overwhelmed the Griffons 60-19 in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The tightly-knit Kings pack and their suffocating defence shut the Griffons out of the match from early on in a top-class performance by Eastern Province.
The win was set up up front by a dominant pack, who ruled the scrums with a fist of iron, and a now familiar rolling maul that saw loose forward Luke Watson cross for a hat-trick of tries.
But the Kings also boasted a slick, clinical backline, with Samoan Paul Perez a juggernaut on the wing.
Perez was the man who set the ball rolling for the Kings with a marvellous try, running 50 metres and bumping off half-a-dozen tacklers on his way to the tryline. Unsurprisingly, he was the go-to man whenever the Kings wanted momentum out wide.
The Kings backline was also efficient in capitalising on their front-foot ball and fullback SP Marais and centre Tiger Mangweni also scored before the first half was ended with Watson’s first try, giving Eastern Province a 29-0 lead at the break.
Although the match was totally one-sided, the Griffons did fight back in the second half with tries by centres Japie Nel and Werner Griesel. But they were missing the sheer physicality and precision of the Kings and were clearly going to finish the day as also-rans, despite being third on the log at the start of the game.
Flyhalf George Whitehead, loose forward Cornell du Preez (fittingly as he was the outstanding player of the night), replacement centre Siyanda Grey and Watson, twice, all crossed the tryline for the Kings in the second half as they cantered to victory in far more impressive fashion than even they probably presumed.
Eastern Province Kings – Tries: Paul Perez, SP Marais, Tiger Mangweni, Luke Watson (3), George Whitehead, Cornell du Preez, Siyanda Grey. Conversions: Whitehead (6). Penalty: Whitehead.
Griffons – Tries: Japie Nel, Werner Griesel, Nicky Steyn. Conversions: Hansie Graaff (2).