A late drop goal by Ntabeni Dukisa saved the EP Kings any blushes as they edged Border Bulldogs 9-6 (half-time 3-3) in a scrappy and dull Absa Currie Cup First Division rugby match at NMB stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
With two minutes remaining on the stadium clock and the scores dead-locked at 6-6, Dukisa disected the uprights with a well-taken drop goal to earn his team four points for a victory they did not come close to deserving.
For all their possession for the last 60 minutes of the match the Kings battled to dominate their opponents. There was a myriad of handling errors committed by the home side and at one stage they looked headed for their fourth consecutive home defeat.
EP rested their Southern Kings players who remained with the union after the Super Rugby promotion-relegation loss against the MTN Lions. It should not have mattered with the depth they possess in Port Elizabeth for this level of rugby but it almost did on Friday night.
The Bulldogs players, almost forgotten partners in the Southern Kings franchise this past Super Rugby season, approached the start of the match with fire in their bellies.
In fact, they probably edged the opening 15 minutes. EP slowly began to claw their way back into the match by reverting to retaining possession and canning the tactical kicking approach of the initial stages.
However, Border's defence still held firm despite the Kings launching a series of attacks at their tryline. Flank Mpho Mbiyozo did burst through a ruck and looked alomst certain to score before being held up over the tryline.
It took all of 37 minutes before the first points of the game were registered when EP fullback Ntabeni Dukisa slotted a penalty. He and Border fullback Dale Sabbagh had each missed earlier attempts in the half. Sabbagh, however, opened his account on the halftime hooter with a long distance penalty of his own.
Border took advantage of the situation in the second half to take a surprise lead 6-3 after 52 minutes when Sabbagh slotted another penalty. It took another 20 minutes for EP to level the scores through the boot of Dukisa. A stalemate looked very likely until the Dukisa's moment of late magic.
EP - Penalties: Ntabeni Dukisa (2); Drop goal: Ntabeni Dukisa.
Border Bulldogs - Penalties: Dale Sabbagh (2).