THE EP Kings were given an early taste of the tough battles that lie ahead when they slumped to a 33-10 defeat against the Bulls in a friendly at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last night.
It was not the ideal start for new Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg but he will have learned valuable lessons about the players at his disposal in this opener.
Janse van Rensburg had warned that the Bulls would throw “absolutely everything” at his team in this encounter and his prediction proved true.
The Kings drew first blood when the reliable Scott van Breda sent the ball sailing through the posts when he comfortably slotted a penalty after three minutes.
This sparked the Bulls into action and the Kings had to work overtime in the opening minutes as the visitors took the ball through several phases and spread the ball wide.
The Kings managed to withstand the onslaught and took the fight to the Bulls in a match which started at a hot pace.
The Bulls took the lead after 27 minutes when their feisty No 8, Arno Botha, powered his way over the Kings’ tryline for the first try of the evening. Flyhalf Tian Schoeman made no mistake with the conversion to put the visitors ahead 7-3.
Never afraid to give the ball air, the Bulls went over for two tries in a space of four minutes, with Travis Ismaiel and then Schoeman dotting down in quick succession.
Schoeman waltzed his way through the Kings defence as the Bulls swept their way into a commanding lead.
With Schoeman converting both tries, it was a hammer blow for the Kings who suddenly found themselves trailing 21-3 at halftime.
The Kings were desperate to get back into the game in the early stages of the second period but they were unable to find a way through the resolute Bulls defence.
With 23 minutes left the Bulls crossed for their fourth try when Dries Swanepoel dotted down after more pressure from the visitors.
The floodgates then opened and the Bulls drove their way over the Kings line with Roelof Smit scoring his team’s fifth try.
It took until 11 minutes before the end before the Kings could find a way past the Bulls’ defence with Enrico Acker finally giving the Kings fans something to smile about with a late try. The scorers: Bulls 33: Tries: Arno Botha, Travis Ismaiel, Tian Schoeman, Dries Swanepoel, Roelof Smit. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (4).
EP Kings 10: Try: Enrico Acker. Conversion: Scott van Breda. Penalty: Scott van Breda.