The Eastern Province Kings turned around a second half deficit to run in seven tries and beat the Falcons 45-24 (halftime 19-15) in an Absa Currie Cup First Division match at NMB Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday night.
The victory ensured the Kings remain unbeaten in the competition but they had to fight to keep a determined Falcons team at bay. In fact, ten minutes into the second half the Kings were trailing 19 to 24, and it appeared the Falcons were on the verge of pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the season.
The sixth-placed Falcons have scored as many tries as some of the top sides in the competition but have also had their problems defensively, conceding the second-most tries.
The Kings got off to a great start when captain Luke Watson scored two tries in the first 15 minutes, with the first try neatly converted by George Whitehead.
Sandwiched between Watson’s efforts was a try by Falcons left wing, Jaco Oosthuize, after an attacking move which went through a number of phases.
Falcons Flyhalf Karlo Aspeling added the two points and a penalty in the 20th minute to take the score to 12-10.
The Falcons made it clear they did not come to Port Elizabeth to roll and over and play dead, running the ball at every opportunity.
The Kings managed to gain a little more ground when referee Stuart Berry awarded them a penalty try after the repeated infringements in the scrum by the Falcons, which Whitehead once again successfully converted.
But it was the Falcons who had the last say in the first half, with their No 8, Reg Muller, crashing over the tryline from close in.
Straight into the second half the Falcons narrowed the gap to just one point with a penalty and took the lead after 43 minutes through a superb Aspeling drop-goal from 40m out.
The Falcons flyhalf then extended the cushion to five points with another penalty.
Powerhouse Cornel du Preez turned the tide scoring two tries in the space of five minutes to regain the advantage, putting the Kings 33-24 ahead.
With just seven minutes left, prop Jaco Engels also drove his way over the tryline after a superb run by Samoan wing Paul Perez and Wesley Dunlop’s successful conversion took the Kings to 40 – 24, and the writing was on the wall.
Centre Wayne Stevens scored the seventh try for the home team with just minutes to spare.
Their impressive unbeaten 10 match has placed the Kings comfortably at the top of the First Division log.
EP Kings – Tries: Luke Watson (2), Cornel du Preez (2), Jaco Engels, Wayne Stevens, Penalty try; Conversions: George Whitehead (2), Wesley Dunlop (3).
Valke – Tries: Jaco Oosthuizen, Reg Muller; Conversions: Karlo Apseling; Penalties: Karlo Aspeling (3); Drop-goals: Karlo Aspeling.