Carl Bezuidenhout kicked 19 points as the Steval Pumas secured a 29-13 (half-time 16-6) win over the EP Kings in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Flyhalf Bezuidenhout had a fine all-round game as he succeeded with four penalties, two conversions and a drop goal while he also had a hand in the first of two tries scored by right wing Trompie Pretorius.
EP pivot Wesley Dunlop was responsible for all of the defending champion’s points as he scored a try and kicked a conversion and two penalties.
The Pumas held the upper-hand for much of the contest and they could even afford two second-half yellow cards, at one point playing with 13 men, on their way to a well-deserved victory.
The visitors raced in to an early lead after a penalty from Bezuidenhout before the pivot served up a deft grubber kick which allowed Pretorius to run through to dot down despite the close attention of two defenders.
Bezuidenhout succeeded with the touchline conversion as the visitors moved to 10-0 after 17 minutes.
The Kings narrowed the gap to four points after 27 minutes thanks to two penalties from Dunlop but the Pumas were in the ascendancy and they duly went to the break holding a 16-6 lead after two more Bezuidenhout penalties.
The Pumas, much as they had done in the first half, dominated the opening exchanges at the start of the second half but they had to wait until 10 minutes after the restart before they could add to their score when Bezuidenhout popped over a close-range drop goal.
Bezuidenhout nailed his fourth successful penalty three minutes later as the Pumas eased in to a 22-6 lead.
The Kings were finally stung into action and they eventually managed to breach the Pumas’ defence, in the 57th minute, when Dunlop burst through two attempted tackles on a six-metre run to the tryline.
Dunlop converted his own try to narrow the gap to nine points.
The Kings’ hopes of a comeback victory were raised in the 62nd minute when Pumas inside centre Stefan Watermeyer was yellow-carded for intentionally knocking the ball down.
The Pumas’ situation became all the more precarious six minutes later when eighthman RW Kember was yellow-carded for throwing a punch.
However, the Pumas were not to be denied and Pretorius grabbed his second try, with 10 minutes left to play, to make sure of the win.
EP Kings – Try: Wesley Dunlop; Conversion: Dunlop; Penalties: Dunlop (2).
Steval Pumas – Tries: Trompie Pretorius (2); Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (2); Penalties: Bezuidenhout (4); Drop goal: Bezuidenhout.