EP Kings’ Perez fit to face Pumas

George Byron

DYNAMIC Samoan international wing Paul Perez will be fit to take his place in the EP Kings line-up for their make or break Absa Currie Cup First Division rugby clash against the Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.10pm).

There was some concern that the powerful wing might be forced to miss this vital showdown after he was seen leaving the field with ice on his right wrist during his team’s runaway 60-19 win over the Griffons on Friday.

“We took Paul off as a precaution and he will be ready for this massive game against the Pumas on Friday,” EP’s director of rugby Alan Solomons said yesterday.

Earlier Perez had thrilled the crowd with a wonder try in which he shrugged off at least five Griffons defenders to score the first of EP’s nine tries against the Griffons on Friday. His run of almost 50 metres had the crowd on their feet and set the tone for an impressive display by the men in red and black hoops.

“I would venture to say that if our match had been televised then Paul’s try would have been a strong candidate for try of the week,” Solomons said after Friday’s rousing display of power rugby by his team.

The Pumas showdown is shaping up into a “mini cup final” and has rekindled memories of the epic promotion/relegation match between the sides which attracted a record 48000 crowd to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium two years ago.

“I cannot emphasise enough just how important our game against the Pumas is,” Solomons, whose team are unbeaten after their opening 12 matches in the First Division and enjoy an eight- point lead over the second-placed Pumas, said.

“Victory on Friday would earn us a berth in the Premier Division playoffs at the end of the season, and also secure a home semifinal and then potentially a home final in the First Division playoffs,” Solomons said.

If EP beat the Pumas they face tough home and away playoff matches against the team finishing bottom of the Premier Division.

There is a “dog fight” at the bottom of the Premier Division with the Bulls, Cheetahs and Griquas all fighting to avoid having to put their Premier Division status on the line with only four matches left to play.

Though many feel Griquas will eventually end last, they are currently third from bottom with 15 points ahead of the Cheetahs (11 points) and the bottom-of-the-table Bulls on just nine points.

Solomons said he was hoping a big crowd would turn up at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday to support the Kings for their biggest game of the season.

“This is a huge match and a big home crowd will be a huge boost for the team. This will inspire the team and we need the support of the community on Friday,” he said.

Apart from Perez’s outstanding opening try, the crowd were treated to a further eight tries as EP ran riot against the Griffons in a one-sided encounter on Friday

Dynamic fullback SP Marais produced an almost equally breath-taking try when he sprinted 30m down the touchline to score the Kings’ second try to put the home team into a convincing early 15-0 lead.

There was also a hat-trick of tries from skipper Luke Watson who took full advantage of EP’s powerful pack to score after trademark rolling mauls by the men in red and black hoops.

On September 29, the EP Kings meet the Leopards in their final league match of the season before the playoffs.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pt

EP Kings

12

11

1

0

466

200

55

Pumas

12

9

1

2

470

300

47

Leopards

12

7

0

5

448

386

38

Griffons

12

7

0

5

387

413

38

SWD

12

7

1

4

379

384

36

Boland

12

2

1

9

371

411

22

Falcons

12

3

0

9

330

501

20

Bulldogs

12

0

0

12

251

507

8

 

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