Port Elizabeth - The Free State XV chalked up a third consecutive victory when they beat the Eastern Province Kings 35-15 (half-time 21-10) in their Currie Cup qualifier at a cold and windy Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening.
Free State were coming off back-to-back victories over the Lions and the Sharks while the Kings had suffered a heavy loss against Western Province in Cape Town in their previous match last weekend.
Eastern Province dominated the early exchanges and drew first blood with a seventh minute penalty slotted by flyhalf Michael Brink.
But Free State hit straight back with try by hooker Joseph Dweba from a driving maul off a lineout on 10 minutes. Flyhalf Sias Ebersohn slotted the conversion.
Another try from a lineout by Free State scrumhalf Ruan van Rensburg and an Ebersohn conversion from the corner saw the visitors lead 14-3 after 19 minutes.
But the Kings narrowed the gap with a superb try by left wing Athi Mayinje who received the ball at pace in the midfield at halfway and jinxed his way through the defence to score. Brink added the two points.
Dweba then got his second try after sustained Free State pressure on the stroke of halftime. Ebersohn was again on target with the conversion to take the teams into the break.
The first 20 minutes of the second half had Free State dominating proceedings but at the same failing to make an impression on the scoreboard because of a spate of errors. The Kings also defended well but had their opponents’ handling been better they could have racked up a serious lead.
The Kings were dealt a blow when replacement front rower Mzuvukile Sofisa was shown a yellow card. Free State immediately took advantage of their extra numbers and replacement hooker Tiaan Liebenberg mauled his way over for the team’s fourth try. Ebersohn maintained his perfect record with the boot by slotting the conversion.
Minutes later it was prop BG Uys’ turn to cross the tryline for Free State when he picked a loose pass in 22m area with eight minutes to play. Ebersohn had no trouble with his fifth conversion.
Kings centre Somila Jho scored a consolation second try for the homes side just on full-time.
Tries: Athi Mayinje, Somila Jho
Conversions: Michael Brink
Tries: Joseph Dweba (2), Ruan van Rensburg, Tiaan Liebenberg, BG Uys
Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (5)