Lions pummel hapless Kings
MATCH REPORT: Captain Albertus Smith scored three tries as the Golden Lions thrashed the Eastern Province Kings 71-7 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The bonus-point win moved the Lions to fifth on the standings. They now face the Sharks in a mouth-watering encounter in Johannesburg next week, which will be a decider for one of the play-off positions.
The Golden Lions dominated possession and territory in the opening ten minutes of the game, but they could not find their rhythm on attack to turn their dominance into points.
The visitors also had a number of kickable penalties thanks to the Kings' ill-discipline in the first quarter, but the Lions were intent on scoring tries.
However, after sustained pressure the Lions eventually found a way to the tryline when Ruan Ackermann pushed his way over the whitewash after some hard work by his teammates up front in the Kings' 22. Jaco van der Walt added the extra two points for a 7-0 lead.
Ackermann's try seemed to kick the home side into action and they hit back with a try of their own a few minutes later. After some great handling and a few good runs by fullback Johan Tromp, it was Sampie Mastriet who stretched over for a try after he was put into some space a few metres from the Lions' tryline. Pieter-Steyn de Wet converted the try and the scores were all level after 23 minutes.
The Kings made life tough for the Lions, but it was the visitors who almost got the next score of the game. After another foray into the Kings' half, Jean-Pierre du Preez was put into space in the Kings' 22 only to lose the ball forward with the tryline a few metres in front of him.
Despite the setback, the Lions continued to put the Kings under pressure with ball in hand and they finally got their second try when centre Howard Mnisi evaded a number of defended to sprint in for the score. Van der Walt was unable to add the extra two points, but the Lions looked dominant on the field.
The visitors finished the first half with a flourish after tries form wing Koch Marx and captain Albertus Smith, which took the game away from the Kings. Van der Walt converted both tries and the Lions led 26-7 at half-time.
It was more of the same in the second half when the Johannesburg outfit made a blistering start via tries from Anthony Volmink and Jacques Nel in the first five minutes. With 35 minutes to play, the Lions already had a 31-point lead.
The Lions had the large majority of the ball after those two tries, but they had to wait almost 20 minutes before they influenced the scoring again and it came via another two tries by captain Smith, with his third coming in the 66th minute.
Three further tries from Mnisi, Nel and fullback Sylvian Mahuza in the final 11 minutes sealed a comprehensive win for the defending champions.
Man of the Match: Howard Mnisi was electrifying with ball in hand and he scored two tries. His midfield partner Jacques Nel also crossed the tryline twice and he showed some neat touches out wide. However, the award goes to captain Albertus Smith for leading by example and giving the Kings problems every time he carried the ball - and don't forget his three tries.
For Eastern Province Kings:
Con: De Wet
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Ackermann, Mnisi 2, K Marx, A Smith 3, Volmink, Nel 2, Mahuza
Cons: Van der Walt 5, A Coetzee 3
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Alcino Izaacs, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Ricky Schroeder (captain), 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Brandon Brown, 6 Luke van der Smit, 5 Sebastian Ferreira, 4 David Antonites, 3 Pieter Stemmet, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Justin Forwood.
Replacements: 16 Cullen Collopy, 17 Vukile Sofisa, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Vince Jobo, 20 Vian van der Watt, 21 Lungelo Gosa, 22 Johan Greyling.
Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Koch Marx, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Albertus Smith (captain), 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Cyle Brink, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Andries Coetzee.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry, Egon Seconds
TMO: Christie du Preez