EP Kings kick off with win
Duane Heath
July 15, 2011
The Eastern Province Kings kicked off their bid to return to the top flight of South African rugby with a largely forgettable 28-20 (halftime 16-11) win over the SWD Eagles in an Absa Currie Cup First Division match played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The crowd of 5 000 who attended the season-opening match would have been expecting far more than what they got, which was mostly a messy affair characterised by poor handling from both sides.

Forty-eight points scored might make it sound as if this was a free-flowing encounter that went down to the wire, but in truth it was anything but.

Both sides managed to score only one try apiece, to wingers Norman Nelson (EP) and Howard Noble (SWD) respectively, with the remainder of the points coming from 12 penalties and a conversion.

Eagles flyhalf Cecil Dumond got the scoreboard rolling along as early as the fourth minute when he slotted the first of his three penalties, but it was the local crowd who soon found their voice when Nelson, the prolific try-scoring left wing, touched down three minutes later.

The try was freakish in its construction, coming as it did against the run of play and involving EP centre Siyanda Grey, who kicked the ball ahead, only for it to land in the arms of a grateful Nelson.

EP flyhalf Louis Strydom kicked the conversion and added four penalties later on in what was a solid performance with the boot.

SWD’s try in the 15th minute was as fortuitous as Nelson’s earlier: EP prop Clint Newland charged down a kick from Dumond, only for it to ricochet straight into the arms of Noble, who ran in.

These incidents were however the sum total of the excitement for the night, with the rest of the match unfolding in a litany of errors and collapsed scrums -- although it must be said that the EP pack in particular looked impressive at times with the way they manhandled their opponents.

For the Kings, flanker Jacques Potgieter was a deserved man of the match, with his exceptional defence in particular standing out.

The match was also notable for the way in which Kings replacement flyhalf George Whitehead entered the first-class fray. The youngster came on with 20 minutes remaining, having replaced Strydom, and promptly slotted three penalties to underline his calmness under a fair amount of pressure.

Just before Whitehead ran on, SWD replacement kicker Elrick van Vuuren had just converted the first of his two penalties on 58 minutes to cut EP’s lead to 19-17, but it was the home side who finished the strongest.


EP Kings 28 – Try: Norman Nelson. Conversion: Louis Strydom. Penalties: Strydom (4), George Whitehead (3).

SWD Eagles 20 – Try: Howard Noble. Penalties: Cecil Dumond (3), Elrick van Vuuren (2).


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