The Eastern Province Kings started off their first away game of the Nashua Currie Cup Premier Division on a high note, dotting in two tries and taking a 14-point lead in the first five minutes.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls bounced back and scored seven tries to beat the Eastern Province Kings 49-35 (halftime 28-25) in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
The EP Kings opened the scoreboard with a solid try by hooker Michael Willemse 52 seconds after the opening whistle, with Kobus Marais quickly adding the extra two points to put the home team on the back foot.
The Blue Bulls battled to recover composure, with outside centre Berton Klaasen intercepting a wide pass and dotting down the Kings second try directly under the posts. Marais added the extra 2 and the EP Kings extended their lead by 14 points.
The Blue Bulls Flyhalf Tian Schoeman scored the home side’s first try in the 12th minute while Jamba Ulengo crossed the whitewash in the 19th minute. Schoeman, who kicked superbly throughout the match, converted both tries to bring the scores level at 14 all.
Marais converted a penalty for the EP Kings in the 34th minute, edging them back into a narrow lead, but the Blue Bulls started to find their rhythm and Jannes Kirsten dotted down a try for the Blue Bulls in the 28th minute, converted by Schoeman, to take the score 21 to 17 in favour of the home side.
Marais converted another penalty for the EP Kings in the 32nd minute, narrowing the gap to a single point. A yellow card against the Blue Bulls RG Snyman for cynical play could have turned the game in favour of the EP Kings, but the home side rallied and a lapse in concentration saw Blue Bulls wing Bjorn Basson score, converted by Schoeman.
The EP Kings were hard pressed, but fullback Johann Tromp managed to cross the whitewash for the visiting side’s third try of the evening, but Marais failed to convert and the sides went into the break with the Blue Bulls leading 28 points to 25.
The second half saw a slightly slower start as the sides teste each other’s defences, with EP Kings wing Siviwe Soyizwapi finally finding space and dotting down the first try of the second half in the 54th minute. Marais again missed the conversion, but the EP Kings regained the lead, 30 points to the Blue Bulls 28.
The Blue Bulls Burger Odendaal replied with a try in the 59th minute and Ulengo in the 64th, both converted off the accurate boot of Schoeman, to once again take the lead.
Replacement EP Kings hooker, Martin Bezuidenhout managed to cross the whitewash one last time for the visiting team in the 67th minute. A missed conversion off the boot of replacement kicker Lungelo Gosa saw the Kings on 35 to the Blue Bulls 42.
Joshua Stander scored the last try of the evening for the Blue Bulls in the 70th minute, with Schoeman’s conversion sealing the match at 49 points to 35.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Tian Schoeman, Jamba Ulengo (2), Jannes Kirsten, Bjorn Basson, Burger Odendaal, Joshua Stander; Cons: Schoeman (7).
Eastern Province Kings – Tries: Micheal Willemse, Berton Klaasen, Johan Tromp, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Martin Bezuidenhout; Cons: Kobus Marais (2); Pens: Marais (2).