The Eastern Province Kings overcame a red-card setback to beat the Free State Cheetahs 32-24 in Port Elizabeth on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Kings have their first Currie Cup win of the 2015 season. What will come as an even greater surprise, is that the Kings achieved this victory with just 14 men on the park.
In the 45th minute of the contest, Kings centre JP du Plessis was sent off for striking an opponent in the face. The ejection of Du Plessis seemed to signal the end for the Kings. They had scrummed well up to that point, and were winning the collisions. Yet, you wouldn't have bet on a 14-man team winning with 35 minutes remaining in the game.
Thanks to an even better forward display in the second stanza, and a flawless goal-kicking stint by Scott van Breda, the Kings powered into the lead. Van Breda goaled all of his eight attempts for a personal tally of 22 points, while Siyanda Grey exposed some poor Cheetahs defence to score an important try in the 56th minute.
The Cheetahs scored three tries in the first half, and led 19-16 at half-time. When Du Plessis was sent from the field early in the second half, you would have expected the visitors to kick on and claim the five log points.
However, their poor forward play and worse handling proved costly. They played into the Kings' hands. Their discipline and defence was shocking, and allowed the short-handed Kings to pile on the points.
A try by Sergeal Petersen in the 78th minute lent the scoreline some respectability, and gave the Cheetahs a four-try bonus point. Unfortunately, flyhalf Fred Zeilinga failed to complete a conversion that would have handed the visitors another log point for losing within seven.
EP Kings – Tries: Luther Obi, Siyanda Grey, Conversions: Scott van Breda (2). Penalties: Van Breda (6).
FS Cheetahs – Tries: Gerhard Olivier, Shaun Venter, Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2).
EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead (c), 11 Luther Obi, 10 Karlo Aspeling, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Dwayne Kelly, 22 Elgar Watts.
FS Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Cornal Hendricks, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje (c), 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Ruan de Bruin, 22 Sias Ebersohn.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images