The Eastern Province Kings consolidated their position in the No 2 slot on the Absa Currie Cup First Division log when they convincingly beat the Border Bulldogs 38-20 at Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Friday, taking home a bonus point in this East Cape derby.
An exceptional strong wind blowing straight down the ground made conditions difficult for the two teams and Border had the wind behind their backs in the first half.
A brilliant well-thought-out move by Border left the EP Kings in disarray as early as the second minute when, from a set scrum, scrumhalf Shannon Rick fed his backline and centre Dwayne Jenner scythed through the EP side untouched to dot down to the right of the posts. Fullback Dale Sabbagh converted.
Border left wing Shane Spring then got his name on the scoreboard with a fine try and again Sabbagh converted. The home team were up 14-0 after eight minutes and the Kings looked a beaten team so early in the match.
The Kings, however, regrouped and were quick to hit back a minute or two later. Border flyhalf Karlo Aspeling cleared from within his 25, but the strong wind took the ball over the EP Kings dead ball area and from the resultant scrum EP flyhalf George Whitehead nipped through to score the first of his two tries.
Fullback Scott van Breda missed badly with his conversion attempt, the ball veering far to the left of the posts.
About halfway through the first stanza disaster struck Border. Their hooker Dean Muir had a rush of blood to the head with a deliberate off-side infringement and was yellow-carded and while he was off the field, the visitors struck three times and his offence cost Border 21 points.
Whitehead scored again, and locks Steven Sykes and skipper Darron Nell breached the Border defence, all the tries were directly under the posts and Van Breda had little trouble converting all three.
With 10 minute to halftime the Kings were handily in the lead 26-17, with Sabbagh having kicked over a penalty after 26 minutes when the Kings failed to release the ball after a tackle.
The final quarter of the half saw Border pushing hard to regain the advantage. They missed two or three opportunities to score, once when they threw away a pass with the tryline beckoning and they were fortunate that the EP backs were reined in quickly.
Three minutes before the break Sabbagh succeeded with his second penalty and then Kings flank Devin Oosthuizen spent the last minute of the half in the sin bin after some rough play.
The halftime score of 26-20 to the Kings was a fair reflection of play but Border had definite cause to rue the yellow card given to their hooker.
The second half failed to deliver any exciting movements and in fact it was a stop-start affair punctuated by errors, handling mistakes by both teams in the strong wind, and plenty of scrums and penalties, by far the majority caused by Border infringements.
Van Breda put over four penalties in the half, including one from about 60 metres out - the ball doing all the work. A minute later he missed another from 58 metres out, the ball having the distance, but swinging to the left.
Border Bulldogs 20: Tries: Dwayne Jenner, Shane Spring. Penalties: Dale Sabbagh (2). Conversions: Sabbagh (2).
EP Kings 38: Tries: George Whitehead (2), Steven Sykes, Darron Nell. Penalties: Scott van Breda (4). Conversions: Van Breda (3).