Fine Taylor-Smith leads EP to victory
August 05, 2011
Centre Mathew Tayler-Smith's fine performance led the EP Kings to a 36-20 (half-time 17-3) victory over the Valke in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Friday.

The unbeaten Kings will be relieved to have come away with five log points from the East Rand, because the match was more closely-contested and tougher than the scoreline suggests.

The gutsy Valke showed their intent early on as they tore into the Kings at the breakdown, and were unfortunate not to claim the first try when wing Sinovuyo Ganto raced down the left touchline, chipped ahead and then could not claim the ball over the tryline as he was obstructed.

Despite being denied any reward then, the Valke were still first on the scoreboard when some fine counter-rucking earned them a penalty, which flyhalf Dillon Laubscher kicked.

The Kings quickly struck back, however, with the first try, although the Valke will be bemoaning their misfortune once again.

Fullback Sarel Marais's kick ricocheted off a Valke player and was grabbed by Kings flank Luke Watson, who had been played onside. His back-flip in the tackle came off another Valke player and was picked up by Marais, who then raced clear of the befuddled defence to score.

Inside centre Tayler-Smith was, in particular, dining out on the loose, unstructured defence of the Valke and he was also given great front-foot ball by the strong rolling mauls of the Kings, to which the Valke had no answer.

The 24-year-old Tayler-Smith played a part in the next two Eastern Province tries that gave the visitors an important half-time cushion.

In the 24th minute, flyhalf George Whitehead made a half-break after a rolling maul, got his hands through the tackle, Tayler-Smith took the ball well and his long pass out to Marais allowed the fullback to score his second try.

Tayler-Smith set up the next try, with nine minutes left in the first half, from a solid Kings scrum. He drifted outside his man, burst through the gap and wing Norman Nelson was sent away down the right touchline to score.

Seven minutes after the break, the former Grey High School flyhalf was at it again, his half-break and super pass inside allowing Marais to claim his hat-trick try.

Whitehead converted and the Kings were leading 24-3, but they were then knocked back by a Valke outfit that worked hard on their defence in the second half and kept putting heavy pressure on the rucks and tackles.

In the 50th minute, scrumhalf Jaco Snyman made a great break from a scrum, but centre Franco Booysen spilt the ball. Eastern Province scrumhalf Danie Faasen was on hand to tidy up, but his pass went straight to Valke centre Coert Cronje, who had a free run to the tryline.

Booysen then made amends with a fantastic burst down the left touchline after picking up a turnover ball at a ruck, and his pop-pass sent wing Kyle Hendricks speeding away for the try.

Laubscher converted and the Valke had closed the gap to 15-24, but just three minutes later, the Kings had another top-class rolling maul on the go. Even though Australian referee Andrew Lees was allowing all sorts of infringements to go unpunished, Watson was still able to burst clear with the ball and another exceptional back-flip in contact allowed Tayler-Smith, running an excellent line, to break through for the try.

The Valke may have been trailing 29-15, but they were not out of contention and Eastern Province spent an extended period under extreme pressure in the last 10 minutes. They conceded a penalty for offsides, which the Valke tapped and spread wide. Replacement centre Morgan Newman burst out of the defensive line in an attempt for an intercept that would be fruitless, Hendricks then easily rounding Marais for the try.

Unfortunately for the home side, replacement flyhalf Chanley Williams's conversion was wide (20-29) and Tayler-Smith capped a fine match by slipping through for the final try, from another rolling maul, in the 80th minute.


Valke - Tries : Coert Cronje, Kyle Hendricks (2). Conversion: Dillon Laubscher. Penalty: Laubscher.

EP Kings - Tries : Sarel Marais (3), Norman Nelson, Mathew Taylor-Smith (2). Conversions: George Whitehead (2), Louis Strydom.


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