Kings down Pumas in PE
The EP Kings made it three from three in the Vodacom Cup with a hard-fought 23-8 (halftime 17-3) win over the Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday night.
The match came just hours after it was announced that EP had been found guilty of fielding ineligible players, namely former Pumas Hannes Franklin and Jacques Coetzee, in two Vodacom Cup games and two Southern Kings friendlies without the necessary clearance certificates.
How ironic then that the selfsame Franklin was the man of the match against his old team, who were outplayed on the night, much to the delight of the 3,500 fans who came to watch.
Franklin was able to play because EP have appealed the ruling, and Franklin was on hand to ensure the Kings kept their early-season momentum going against the Currie Cup Premier Division outfit.
EP led 17-3 at the break, thanks to tries from left wing Marcello Sampson and centre Mathew Tayler-Smith, while flyhalf Jaco van Schalkwyk kicked two conversions and a penalty.
Van Schalkwyk added a penalty and a drop goal in the second half while the visitors could reply only with a first-half penalty to replacement wing Braam Pretorius and a try on the hour by wing Deon Scholtz.
The first 20 minutes were as uncompromising as it gets but the Pumas were their own worst enemies on the night thanks to some poor handling.
EP opened the scoring in the 19th minute when Tayler-Smith went over in the corner for Van Schalkwyk to convert following a good driving maul.
Pretorius made it 7-3 five minutes later but Van Schalkwyk cancelled it out five minutes before the break.
The home side then struck a crucial blow on the stroke of halftime when Sampson dived over under the posts after cutting inside following a scrum move.
The Kings carried a 14-point lead into the second half and the gap was soon 17 as Van Schalkwyk slotted his second penalty.
The Pumas finally scored their first try on the hour when Scholtz chipped and regathered for a fine solo effort.
But it was too little too late as Van Schalkwyk closed out the game with a neat drop goal to give his team the win.
EP Kings 23 – Tries: Marcello Sampson, Mathew Tayler-Smith. Conversions: Jaco van Schalkwyk (2). Penalties: Van Schalkwyk (2). Drop goal: Van Schalkwyk.
Pumas: Try: Deon Scholtz. Penalty: Braam Pretorius.