Port Elizabeth - The Eastern Province Kings completed their Vodacom Cup campaign with a 23-8 victory (half-time 8-8) over the Sharks in a South Section clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The Kings made some frustrating errors on attack but were solid on defence and deserved their victory on the night.
For all their dominance in the loose and set phases during the early exchanges, the Kings struggled to convert all their possession into territory. This was due, in part, to the fact that their flyhalf Hansie Graaff battled to find touch on numerous occasions.
They did strike first though when Graaff landed a sixth-minute penalty. The Sharks’ fullback, Garth April, levelled matters 10 minutes later with a penalty of his own.
The Sharks were down to 14 men soon after that when centre Paul Jordaan was a shown a yellow card for a professional foul.
EP took advantage of the numerical advantage almost immediately and exciting left wing Luther Obi twisted out of a couple of tackles to worm his over for the opening try of the game.
But the Sharks struck right back through some good work from their scrumhalf Hanco Venter, who ripped the ball on the Kings’ 22metre to run through and score with EP defenders snapping at his heels.
The Kings were back in the lead seven minutes after the break when scrumhalf Jaco Grobler took a quick-tap penalty and forced his way over despite the attention of a number of Sharks players.
Replacement Kings flyhalf Scot van Breda made sure the Sharks would need to score twice for victory when he slotted an easy penalty with 12 minutes remaining on the stadium clock to make the score 16-8.
And substitute scrumhalf Enrico Acker clinched the win with by crashing over for a late try which was converted by Van Breda.
Both teams were unable to qualify for the Vodacom Cup playoffs and will now take a break from competitive rugby until the Absa Currie Cup kicks off in early August.
Tries: Luther Obi, Jaco Grobler, Enrico Acker
Conversion: Scott van Breda
Penalties: Hansie Graaff, Scott van Breda
Try: Hanco Venter
Penalty: Garth April