The Eastern Province Kings took advantage of their forward dominance to beat the Regent Boland Cavaliers 28-21 (halftime 10-8) in their Vodacom Cup rugby match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, in Port Elizabeth, on Friday.
It was a tough battle of the also-rans and one in which the Kings took control largely in the second half as their pack scrummed Boland into the ground.
The victory broke a three-match losing streak for the Kings but it was still not good enough to help them qualify for the quarterfinals, a milestone which is beyond their reach.
The flyhalves traded penalties to open the scoring with Boland's Christiaan Rust slotting an attempt in the eighth minute and the Kings' Ntabeni Dukisa levelling matters 10 minutes later.
The visitors made it clear from the start that they wanted to give the ball some air. They made the brighter start. They limited their players at the breakdown and fanned out wide on attack when the opportunities presented itself.
The Kings seemed to hang off the ball waiting for something to happen. It did, but not in their favour as Boland lock JC Astle crashed over for his team's opening try following a quick-tap by scrumhalf Marnus Hugo in the 23rd minute.
The Cavaliers were dealt a blow shortly after the half hour, when tighthead prop Martin Dreyer received a yellow card for collapsing the scrum.
That disrupted the Cavaliers scrum and the Kings took advantage of their numerical numbers in that department forcing a penalty try in the 38th minute which Dukisa converted just before the break.
Boland regained the lead with a Rust penalty shortly after the restart but the Kings struck back in the 45th minute with a try from lock Cameron Lindsay who forced his way over from close out. Ntabeni added the two points. He also slotted a long-distance penalty to stretch the lead to 20-11.
Boland, however, were not going away and responded with an outstanding try by fullback Harlon Klaasen, who stepped off his left foot twice to leave the Kings' defence flat-footed. Rust narrowed the gap to two points and then kicked a penalty as the visitors sneaked into the lead again.
Once again, the lead did not last too long as Dukisa landed another penalty two minutes later. The Kings wore Boland down up front and eventually sealed the win as replacement Siphe Punguzwa dotted down with a minute left on the stadium clock.
EP KINGS: Tries: Penalty Try, Cameron Lindsay, Siphe Punguzwa; Conversions: Ntabeni Dukisa (2); Penalties: Ntabeni Dukisa (3).
BOLAND CAVALIERS: Tries: JC Astle, Harlon Klaasen; Conversions: Christian Rust; Penalties: Christian Rust (3).