Western Province got their Currie Cup campaign back on track with a 36-6 win against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
This was a must-win match for the visitors, who had lost their opening two fixtures of the season, against a winless Kings team that remains rooted to the bottom of the log. However, while WP left the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium with the full five log points, it wasn't a clinical performance. The Kings did well to restrict their opponents, who had 65% of the possession, to just four tries in 70 minutes, but two late tries by Huw Jones, which saw the centre complete a hat-trick, inflated the scoreline.
Kobus Marais opened the scoring for the EP Kings with a third-minute penalty, but WP soon began to dominate and were rewarded with a try in the 11th minute. They took a quick throw-in near their 22 and after three phases, a long skip pass from Brandon Thomson found Kobus van Dyk. He passed to Dan du Plessis, who sent Leolin Zas away down the left touchline.
The visitors' second try, six minutes later, was launched from a lineout inside EP territory, with the ball going wide to Cheslin Kolbe. The fullback did well to pass in a crunching tackle to Zas, who put Jones over.
EP suffered a further setback when Christiaan de Bruin was sent to the sin bin for a cynical infringement at a ruck. No sooner had the No 8 left the field than Werner Kok appeared to have scored his first try for WP on his Currie Cup debut. But the TMO ruled that the pass from Van Dyk had gone marginally forward.
Marais slotted his second penalty to make it 12-6, before the Kings were again reduced to 14 men when Etienne Oosthuizen was yellow-carded for a professional foul just before half-time. WP opted to scrum from the penalty, demolished the Kings pack and just when it looked like the referee may award a penalty try, Sikhumbuzo Notshe picked up from the back to score.
The Kings, though, did well not to concede any more points while down a man. In fact, it took WP until the 57th minute to add to their tally when Jano Vermaak darted away from a lineout driving maul to score the bonus-point try.
With eight minutes to go, Jones scored his second try, after picking up a loose ball in midfield, bursting through a gap and beating the two cover defenders. And his hat-trick followed two minutes later after a good run from Zas, as WP completed a convincing victory.
EP Kings – Penalties: Kobus Marais (2).
Western Province – Tries: Leolin Zas, Huw Jones (3), Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jano Vermaak. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (3).
EP Kings – 15 Johann Tromp, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 JC Greyling, 12 Burton Klaasen, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Ricky Schroeder (c), 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Vince Jobo, 5 Sebastian Ferreira, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Vukile Sofisa, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Justin Forwood.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Barend Potgieter, 18 Dylon Pieterse, 19 Luke vd Smit, 20 Brandon Brown, 21 Lungelo Goza, 22 Ganfried May.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Robert du Preez.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images