Kings edge Bulldogs in thriller
Ross Roche
June 15, 2017

The Eastern Province Kings edged the Border Bulldogs 43-38 in a thrilling SuperSport Rugby Challenge clash at the BCM Stadium in East London on Thursday night.

A try fest saw 11 tries scored on the night, with the Kings running in six against the Bulldogs' five, to claim the bonus point win that puts them within two points of the second-placed Bulldogs on the South section log.

In a game where the kickers played a big part in keeping the game tight, Bulldogs flyhalf Oliver Zono slotted all six of his shots at goal while the only miss from the Kings side was a conversion attempt from Pieter-Steyn de Wet in the second half.

The first half was an exhibition of attacking rugby from both teams, with both also guilty of some sloppy defence, leading to the glut of tries and the scores level at 28-a-piece at the break.

Bulldogs wing Lelethu Gcilitshane started the scoring as early as the third minute, picking up a perfectly weighted grubber kick on the left-hand touch line and running around to score under the poles.

The Kings then drew level four minutes later as captain Stefan Ungerer crashed over the the left of the posts.

They then took the lead in the 12th minute as good interplay between wing Neil Maritz and fullback Keanu Vers ended with Maritz over in the right hand corner.

A yellow card to Kings flank SF Nieuwoudt for an off-the-ball incident in the 15th minute then turned the game on its head as the Bulldogs scorched into a 28-14 lead with a six-minute, three-try blitz.

A scrum just over half way saw the ball swung with fullback Sonwabiso Mqalo slicing through a gap and wrong footing the last defender to dot down under the poles.

Wing Michael Makase then ran in a 78-metre try from the kick off and by the 22nd minute the Bulldogs had their try bonus point as Gcilitshane scored his second, this time picking up a good kick ahead from Makase.

The Kings however fought back in the final 10 minutes of the half as hooker Tango Balekile and wing Sonwabo Majola went over to drag the visitors level at the break.

The second half was then a bit more of a sedate affair as both teams felt the effects of a bruising first half, with some scrappy play at the start of it.

In the 55th minute Kings flank Stefan Willemse crashed over in the left-hand corner for an unconverted score, giving the visitors a lead that they would hold until the end of the match.

A yellow card to Bulldogs inside centre Lunga Dumezweni in the 57th minute and then a Pieter-Steyn de Wet penalty three minutes later put the Kings 36-28 up, with it looking like they might run away with it.

However, Zono was on target with a penalty of his own, with Kings eighth-man Brandon Brown driving over for a converted score in the 68th minute to make it 43-31.

With six minutes left Zono then scored a try of his own and popped over the conversion to bring the score within a try for the Bulldogs, but the Kings held their nerve to see out a breathtaking win.


Border Bulldogs – Tries: Lelethu Gcilithsane (2), Sonwabiso Mqalo, Michael Makase, Oliver Zono; Conversions: Oliver Zono (5); Penalty: Oliver Zono

Eastern Province Kings – Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Neil Maritz, Tango Balekile, Sonwabo Majola, Stefan Willemse, Brandon Brown; Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (4), Michael Brink; Penalty: Pieter-Steyn de Wet

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