More than 10 000 spectators pack Wolfson Stadium
Western Province got their SuperSport Rugby Challenge up and running when they beat the EP Kings 30-18 in a hardfought clash in front of more than 10 000 fans at the Wolfson Stadium yesterday.
The match was watched by Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids and his players, who only arrived back in Port Elizabeth yesterday morning after their stunning Super Rugby win over the Waratahs in Sydney on Friday.
The EP side featured several players on the fringe of the Southern Kings’ squad who were attempting to impress Davids, whose team play the Melbourne Rebels in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Kings v WP showdown was the last game in a triple header which provided a full day’s entertainment for the big crowd.
WP clinched the game in the 80th minute when powerful No 8 Jaco Coetzee scored a fourth try for the visitors, who dominated in the closing stages.
The home team grabbed a late try to snatch a narrow 13-10 lead at halftime after a tussle for ascendancy between two fired-up sides.
Kings fullback Chrysander Botha broke through the Western Province defence before passing to scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, who dived over for EP’s second try after 41 minutes.
After the break, EP’s Siyanda Grey was yellow-carded, but in his absence Alshaun Bock scored the Kings’ third try to give the home team an 18-13 lead.
WP always looked threatening on attack and fullback Grant Hermanus went over for his team’s second try after 56 minutes to level the scores at 18-18.
The marauding WP side then mauled their way over the tryline for their third try, with loose forward Luke JosephStringer dotting down.
This left WP with a 25-18 lead after Brandon Thompson converted in the 61st minute.
Earlier, the Kings took the lead after seven minutes when Garrick Mattheus nailed a third-minute penalty.
But WP struck back almost immediately when hard-running wing Valentino Wellman scored the first five-pointer of the game.
The Kings scored their first try after 23 minutes when Grey managed to get over in the corner to bring the crowd to their feet.
In the first game, old rivals African Bombers and PE Harlequins clashed in the EP Grand Challenge competition.
This game was won 45-34 by Harlequins and has given them a boost in their efforts to qualify for the Gold Cup later this year.
In the first SuperSport Rugby Challenge fixture, the Border Bulldogs beat the Boland Cavaliers 28-25.
Boland led 20-14 at the break after tries from Charles Mayeza, Danwel Demas and Marlyn Williams
In the end Border ran out 28-25 winners after a strong second-half showing which produced tries from Michael Makase and Blake Kyd.
The recently launched competition will see all 14 provinces and a team from Namibia battle it out in three regional pools, with the top eight sides continuing to contest for the trophy in a number of knockout matches later in the tournament.
EP are in the South Pool along with the Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, SWD Eagles and Western Province
The scorers in the SuperSport Challenge games were:
EP Kings 18: Tries: Siyanda Grey, Stefan Ungerer, Alshaun Bock. Penalty: Garrick Mattheus.
Western Province 30: Tries: Valentino Wellman, Grant Hermanus, Luke Joseph-Stringer, Jaco Coetzee. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (2). Penalties: Thomson (2).
Border Bulldogs 28: Tries: Sonwabiso Maqalo, penalty try (worth 7 points), Michael Makase, Blake Kyd. Conversions: Oliver Zono (3).
Boland Cavaliers 25: Tries: Charles Mayeza, Danwel Demas, Marlyn Williams, Zandre Jordaan. Conversion: Elgar Watts. Penalty: Watts.