Kings ease past Valke
Johannesburg - The match was gone for the Valke by half-time as the EP Kings converted a 24-8 lead at the break into a 37-20 victory in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Saturday.
According to SuperSport's website, the Kings led 31-8 after 55 minutes, but the Valke did get some salve for their wounded pride as they scored two late tries to add some respectability to the scoreline.
On an icy day with a strong wind, the Kings adapted well to the conditions with their pack enjoying dominance and flyhalf George Whitehead kicking well.
Whitehead kicked an early penalty for the Kings and the Valke then paid a heavy price for an injury to tighthead prop Nico Engelbrecht.
He was replaced by Hannes Ludik, who earned himself a yellow card just five minutes after his arrival, the Kings taking advantage of the extra man as wing Michael Killian powered over for the opening try.
The visitors continued to reap the rewards of laying a solid platform up front as experienced tighthead prop Clint Newland scored their second try and, four minutes before half-time, wing Jongi Nokwe was able to use his pace and an overlap to score the third try.
Whitehead converted all three of the tries to leave the EP Kings in firm control at the break, even though Valke eighthman Reg Muller rumbled over in a maul in injury time for the home side's first try.
Newland went off early in the second half and his replacement, Lizo Gqoboka, had been in action for just over a minute when he crossed the tryline to put Eastern Province 31-8 in front after Whitehead's conversion.
The Valke, with nothing to lose, then began to up the pace and play more expansively and, after a wonderful exchange of passes in the backline, wing John-Wessel Bell crossed for their second try.
The yellow-carding of Kings hooker Hannes Franklin in the 62nd minute helped the Valke even more and the strength of replacement eighthman Uzair Cassiem carried him over the line soon afterwards.
The conversion of the try by flyhalf Karlo Aspeling closed the gap to 20-31, but the composure of the Kings shone through and they were never in any obvious danger of losing the match.
With the benefit of territorial advantage, replacement flyhalf Wesley Dunlop was able to kick two penalties in the closing stages to seal the win and continue the unbeaten run of the EP Kings.
VALKE - Tries: Reg Muller, John-Wessel Bell, Uzair Cassiem. Conversion: Karlo Aspeling. Penalty: Aspeling.
EP KINGS - Tries: Michael Killian, Clint Newland, Jongikhaya Nokwe, Lizo Gqoboka. Conversions: George Whitehead (4). Penalties: Whitehead, Wesley Dunlop (2).