The Boland Cavaliers ground out a 28-10 bonus-point win over a dogged EP Kings side in Port Elizabeth on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Kings' Currie Cup participation was under threat following the liquidation of EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd – the business wing of the Eastern Province Rugby Union – but a R20-million bailout package by the Nelson Mandela Municipality did enough to convince SA Rugby to salvage a spot for EP in the Premier Division.
With all the uncertainty over whether they would be able to field a full match-day squad and whether said squad would be competitive enough, EP came into this clash as underdogs. By contrast, Boland are a settled side, who performed consistently well in the qualifying tournament.
And yet, despite everything that happened before the match, this makeshift EP team stayed with Boland on the scoreboard for about 60 minutes, before they faded.
With multiple stray passes and knock-ons throughout the 80 minutes, both teams were disappointing in general play. Boland, however, cut their error-rate, especially in the second half, to come away with maximum log points.
In a messy opening quarter, determined EP defence managed to contain Boland's relentless attack. Only after collecting a yellow card – by lock Tazz Fuzani for foul play – did the hosts concede a try when Boland winger Sergio Torrens sped past two tacklers in midfield to score.
Kings captain Schalk Ferreira had a strong game and soon after making a telling turnover inside the 22, he broke the line but unfortunately couldn't free the hands to get a pass away. After a couple of phases, the hosts were awarded a penalty and flyhalf Kobus Marais slotted the kick to trail 7-3 at the halfway mark.
Boland played much better in the second half, varying their attack and also improved their execution. No 8 Zandre Jordaan, who was named Man of the Match, constantly attacked EP's defensive line and in the 45th minute, he broke through to score. The game opened up after that, but neither side was able to add to their tally for the next 20 minutes.
As the game wore on, Boland started to run more freely and EP started to slip off tackles. That paved the way for two quick tries by Christopher Bosch and Kenan Cronjé. Fullback Nico Scheepers added the extras to make it a full-house of conversions.
The result was well and truly wrapped up, but the hosts would have the final say when Namibian centre Johan Tromp snuck in to grab a consolation effort.
EP Kings – Try: Johan Tromp. Conversion: Lungelo Goza. Penalty: Kobus Marais.
Boland – Tries: Sergio Torrens, Zandré Jordaan, Christopher Bosch, Kenan Cronjé. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (4).
EP Kings – 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Alcino Izaacs, 13 Johan Tromp, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Ricky Schroeder, 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Sebasian Ferreira, 6 Vince Jobo, 5 Cornel Hess, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Vukile Sofisa, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (c).
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 David Antonites, 19 Brandon Brown, 20 Jacques Fick, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Lungelo Goza.
Boland – 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Sergio Torrens, 13 Ryan Nell (c), 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Adriaan Carelse, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandré Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Kenan Cronjé, 5 Hanno Kitshoff, 4 Shaun McDondald, 3 Basil Short, 2 Chadley Wenn, 1 Stephanus Wessels.
Subs: 16 Francois Esterhuizen, 17 Francois Hanekom, 18 Joubert Horn, 19 Chaney Willemse, 20 Jovelian de Koker, 21 William van Wyk, 22 Craig Pheiffer.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images