THE Eastern Province Kings held out for a nail-biting 43-38 victory over the Border Bulldogs in their SuperSport Rugby Challenge match at the BCM Stadium in East London last night.
A brilliant back and forth encounter saw both teams swapping the lead in the first half. However, once the Kings hit the lead in the second period, they never relinquished it.
A cracking first half saw eight tries scored between the two teams, with them locked 28-all at the break.
The Bulldogs got off to a flyer from a lineout just in the Kings’ half.
The ball was spread down the backline, where flyhalf Oliver Zono stabbed through a perfect grubber, with left wing Lelethu Gcilitshane picking the ball up on the 22m line and running under the posts for a converted score after just three minutes.
The Kings, however, hit back four minutes later through scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, who picked up the ball at a ruck on the 5m and sniped over towards the left corner.
Flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet converted to draw the scores level.
The Kings went ahead in the 12th minute from a turned over ball in their own half through wing Neil Maritz.
The turning point in the half came in the 15th minute, as Kings flank SF Nieuwoudt was yellow carded for an off the ball scuffle with a Bulldogs player.
The home side took full advantage, running in three converted tries while he was off the field.
The Kings, however, came storming back.
From a lineout on the Bulldogs’ 5m, their maul broke up, with the ball finding its way to hooker Tango Balekile, who crashed over for a converted score.
The half ended with the teams level after a converted try by Kings wing Sonwabo Majola.
In the second half, the Kings took the lead after flank Stefan Willemse went over for an unconverted score in the 55th minute.
The Kings went up 36-28 three minutes later, as De Wet popped over an easy penalty. A Zono penalty in the 64th minute brought the game to within a score for the hosts.
Kings eighthman Brandon Brown was driven over for a converted score in the 68th minute.
Zono scored in the 74th minute to bring the Bulldogs within five points, but the Kings held out until the final hooter.