BRIMMING with fire and explosive pace, Wales celebrated their historic first appearance in Port Elizabeth by beating the EP Kings 34-12 in an international friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last night.
Even though the Welsh Dragons rested most of their first choice players because of Saturday’s test match against the Springboks, they still had too much firepower for the home team.
Breathing the sort of fire expected from the Welsh Dragons, coach Warren Gatland will head to Durban satisfied with how things went after a vigorous hit out against the Kings which earned his team five tries.
Last night’s result has left Kings head coach Carlos Spencer with much to ponder ahead of his team’s opening Currie Cup match against Western Province on August 8.
Down 29-0 in the second half, the Kings finally brought the crowd to life when the irrepressible Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi dived over for a try in the corner with 23 minutes left.
There was another try for the never-say-die Kings in the final moments when prop Simon Kerrod crashed over the Welsh tryline.
After exerting early pressure on the home side, Wales were rewarded for their dominance when flank Josh Turnbull scored the first try of the game after a driving maul in the 11th minute.
Five minutes later, Welsh centre Cory Allen burst through the Kings defence after some neat interplay among the visitors, who were out of their starting blocks much quicker than the Kings.
Down 14-0 after 16 minutes, the Kings went on the offensive and kept the Welsh line under siege, and the pressure paid off when referee Lourens van der Merwe yellow carded Rhodri Jones.
With Thembelani Bholi and Lizo Gqoboka in the thick of the action, the Welsh were forced to defend desperately as the Kings enjoyed their best period of the opening exchanges.
There were also probing runs from nippy scrumhalf Kevin Luiters.
A penalty by flyhalf James Hook allowed Wales to end the opening half with a 17-0 lead.
Hook went over for his team’s third try five minutes after the restart.
The floodgates opened when powerful wing Alex Cuthberth put the finishing touches to an expansive move by the Dragons which gave them a healthy 29-0 lead after 48 minutes.
Gareth Davies went over for his team’s fifth try after the Kings’ defence was stretched.
Next Friday, the Kings face a Bulls 15 in a Super Rugby friendly and Spencer is likely to blood some more of his new signings in the showdown. – George Byron