The EP Kings struck a blow in the opening round of the national first division when they beat the defending champion Boland Kavaliers in Wellington.
The Kings lost to the Kavaliers in the final last season, so the 25-20 victory will come as a welcome boost for them at the start of a new season which has seen the competition expand to eight teams.
On Saturday, the Leopards held out against the Pumas to win 32-23 in Potchefstroom, and the Griffons came away with a valuable 37-27 away win over the Falcons in Kempton Park, with the weekend's only one-sided encounter being the SWD Eagles' impressive runaway victory in George t against the Border Bulldogs.
Boland Kavaliers 20-25 EP Kings
The EP Kings needed a late try from fullback SP Marais and the boot of Tuks' Varsity Cup-winning flyhalf, Wesley Dunlop, who came on as a replacement in the final quarter against the Boland Kavaliers in Wellington.
EP's starting flyhalf, George Whitehead, scored the opening 10 points via a converted try and a penalty as the visitors pulled ahead on a cold and wet Boland afternoon, only for the Kavaliers to reply with a try to fullback Jacquin Jansen, converted by last season's top point-scorer in the competition, flyhalf Elgar Watts to spark a cheer from the crowd of 600.
The Kings scored again before the break, with loose forward Cornell du Preez going over from a rolling maul, but the men from Port Elizabeth produced a lethargic second half, which allowed the home side back into the game through a second try to Jansen.
Marais came on in the final quarter and, with his side trailing 17-15, dived over for what proved to be the match-turning try.
For the Boland Kavaliers:
Tries: Jansen 2
Cons: Watts 2
Pens: Watts, Croy
For the EP Kings:
Tries: Marais, Whitehead, Du Preez
Cons: Whitehead, Dunlop
Pens: Whitehead, Dunlop
SWD Eagles 46-8 Border Bulldogs
The Border Bulldogs were no match for their Southern Kings franchise partners the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday. The home side scored six tries and new flyhalf Kurt Coleman kicked 16 points in front of a 1,000-strong crowd on a clear evening.
Veteran wing Alshaun Bock scored in the opening minute to set the alarm bells ringing for the Bulldogs, who found themselves 27-0 down before wing Chrislyn van Schalkwyk got his team onto the scoreboard with a try after 35 minutes.
A penalty cut the deficit to 19 points at the break, but the Bulldogs would not trouble the scorers again in the second half as the Eagles wrapped up a comfortable victory with further tries to flank Dumisane Meslane, scrumhalf Johan Herbst and replacement loose forward Kempie Rautenbach.
For the SWD Eagles:
Tries: Bock, Van Vuuren, Rossouw, Meslane, Herbst, Rautenbach
Cons: Coleman 5
Pens: Coleman 2
For the Border Bulldogs:
Try: Van Schalkwyk
Falcons 27-37 Griffons
The Falcons threw away a 13-point advantage at half-time in their match against the Griffons at Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, with replacement flyhalf Tertius Maarman the star of the show for the visitors.
Maarman crossed for two tries in the final 10 minutes as the men from Welkom completed an unlikely come-from-behind victory after the Falcons had seemed to be in complete control at the break, thanks to tries from wing Sandile Ngcobo, flank Marcel Kotze, fullback JW Bell and evergreen No.8 Reg Muller.
But the home side's indiscipline cost them dearly in the second half, with a couple of yellow cards to hooker Shone van der Walt (for a dangerous tackle) and Muller (repeated infringements at the breakdown) contributing to their downfall.
The Griffons set about their task of reeling in the deficit with vigour, prop Charles Marais and No.8 Willie Britz going over to make it a one-point game before Maarman's cameo provided the visitors with a try that put them into a 30-27 lead.
But Maarman was not done and his second score late in the game sparked wild celebrations by a Griffons team for whom winning has become somewhat of a rarity in recent times.
For the Falcons:
Tries: Ngcobo, Kotze, Bell, Muller
Cons: Aspeling 2
For the Griffons:
Tries: Graaff, Marais, Britz, Maarman 2
Cons: Graaff 3
Pens: Van Wyk 2
Leopards 32-23 Pumas 23
An impressive hat-trick of tries from right wing Danie Dames made all the difference as the Leopards got their campaign off to a winning start in front of their home fans at Profert Olen Park in Potchefstroom.
The Leopards scored five tries and would have won by a bigger margin had it not been for a number of missed kicks by flyhalf Gerhard Nortier. The result wasn't always so certain, with the visitors holding a slender 16-15 lead with just half an hour left of a hard-fought battle between two sides who had been playing Currie Cup rugby in 2011.
With the home side trailing 13-5 in the first half, Dames showed just how dangerous his backline could be when given good first-phase possession when, from a scrum near the Pumas' 22, the ball went through a number of pairs of hands until finding its way into the hands of the strapping wing, who cut inside to wrong-foot the cover defence.
Dames completed his hat-trick after an hour with yet another impressive display of power running, before centre Adriaan Engelbrecht's penalty made Jaco Bouwer's late try for the Pumas nothing more than a consolation score.
For the Leopards:
Tries: Dames 3, Kettledas, Strydom
Cons: Engelbrecht 2
For the Pumas:
Tries: Jonker, Bouwer
Cons: Roos 2
Pens: Roos 3
Standings (under heading games played, won and points): SWD Eagles 1 1 5; Griffons 1 1 5; Leopards 1 1 5; EP Kings 1 1 4; Boland 1 0 1; Falcons 1 0 1; Pumas 1 0 0; Border 1 0 0