Port Elizabeth - The Eastern Province Kings turned around a second half deficit to run in seven tries and beat a game Valke outfit 45-24 (halftime 19-15) in an Absa Currie Cup First Division match at NMB Stadium on Friday night.
The victory ensured the Kings remain unbeaten in the competition but they had to fight to keep a determined Valke team at bay. In fact, the Kings trailed 24-19 after 61 minutes but took full advantage when the visitors ran out of steam in the latter stages.
The sixth-placed Valke have scored as many tries as the top sides in the competition but have also had their problems defensively, conceding the second-most tries.
And so it turned out in this match.
The Valke made it clear they did not come to Port Elizabeth to roll and over and play dead.
They ran the ball at every opportunity with their forwards setting up quality ball at the same time.
But it was the Kings who got off to the brighter start with captain and No 8 Luke Watson scored two tries in the first 15 minutes. Both were scored from solid lineout ball and flyhalf George Whitehead converted the first one.
Sandwiched between Watson’s efforts was a try by Valke left wing Jaco Oosthuizen after an attacking move which went through a number of phases. Flyhalf Karlo Aspeling added the two points and a penalty in the 20th minute to take the score to 12-10.
The Kings nudged further ahead when referee Stuart Berry awarded them a penalty try after the repeated infringements in the scrum by the Valke. Whitehead converted.
But the Valke had the last say in the first half when No 8 Reg Muller crashed over the tryline from close in.
They narrowed the gap to one point with an Aspeling penalty straight after the restart and then took the lead after 43 minutes through a superb Aspeling drop-goal from 40m out. The flyhalf then extended the cushion to five points with another penalty.
But there was always a feeling that if the Kings could lift their game a notch they would manage to take control.
And after sustained pressure on the Valke tryline for around 10 minutes, flank Cornel du Preez forced his way over for the Kings to level the score. Replacement flyhalf Wesley Dunlop slotted the conversion. Four minutes later, Du Preez scored his second try converted by Dunlop and when prop Jaco Engels added the sixth try for the homeside, the writing was on the wall. Centre Wayne Stevens added a final score for good measure to complete an impressive comeback from the Kings.
EP Kings – Tries: Luke Watson (2), Cornel du Preez (2), Jaco Engels, Wayne Stevens, Penalty try; Conversions: George Whitehead (2), Wesley Dunlop (3).
Valke – Tries: Jaco Oosthuizen, Reg Muller; Conversions: Karlo Apseling; Penalties: Karlo Aspeling (3); Drop-goals: Karlo Aspeling.