In the Blue Bulls vs EP Kings game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday, 11 September 2014, the Kings started the game playing left to right – according to pundits and old rugby experts playing left to right is always a good sign. But that also depends on your perspective, in this case I will say that he side that the media are on is the most important so left to right it is and shall stay so.
Seven minutes in with the scores level at 0-0 the EP Kings, after dominating play and territory, conceded a penalty just inside their first half which Blue Bulls flyhalf Piet van Zyl sent sailing through the poles to put the Blue Bulls 3-0 up after 8 minutes.
Undaunted the Kings camped in the Blue Bulls half and attempted to penetrate the flat blue line forcing the mistake on the 10th minute – penalty to EP Kings with Scott van Breda to kick from just inside the Blue Bulls half – short and off target.
A bit of relief for the EP Kings in the 10th minute as the Bulls hooker, Bongi Mbonambi, was sent to the naughty corner for 10 minutes after flying into the ruck with no hands to barge his opposite number Kings player away.
A tactical substitution saw Blue Bulls number 16, Bandise Maku come in to take hooker duty.
The Bulls slowed down the game with good defence and scrumming leading to a penalty against the Kings and a slow arrogant stroll to the lineout by the Bulls who went onto the attack and penetrated Kings territory before flyhalf van Zyl’s failed attempt at a drop goal gave the Kings the 22 kickoff and some breathing space.
Back to full strength the Bulls advanced back to the Kings 22 for a lineout off of a penalty from the halfway scrum. A deep throw and the ball sped down the line a small chip and number 13 William Small-Smith pounced on the ball to add 5 points to the Bulls score in the 24th minute. The conversion wasn’t and the Bulls led 8-3.
5 minutes later and a penalty in favour of the Kings saw Scott van Breda on the money as his kick sailed through the posts to put the Kings 5 points off the Blue Bulls at 8-3.
Back the teams went and out came the kicking game until eventually the Blue Bulls were caught offside giving van Breda one more opportunity to kick from around 40 metres away – the crowd roared its praise and the EP Kings moved to within two points of the Bulls after 33 minutes of play: 8-6.
In the 39th minute the Bulls were awarded a penalty for a Kings player coming in from the wrong side – an easy kick for Piet van Zyl from 40 metres out which went sailing through the posts as the hooter blew.
For most of the first half the Kings dominated play, possession and territory with some outstanding set play and inspired running. Who knew what the second half would bring?
Score at the end of the first half: EP Kings 6 – 11 Blue Bulls.
The restart by the Bulls was deep but not effective as the Kings drove the Bulls back into their own half.
The Kings thwarted the Bulls time and again despite the Bulls having overlap after overlap on the left hand side until the 6th minute when Bjorn Basson manged to dot a ball down that he chased – an easy conversion for Piet van Zyl and the Bulls advanced to 18 points.
It seemed as though the Blue Bulls new game is charging with no hands as a penalty given against them allowed the Kings to drive the Bulls back to their half in the 49th minute as Mike van Vuuren came on for Edgar Marutulle.
The distinctive blue scrum cap of a charging Shaun McDonald saw the crowd on their feet as McDonald went on a 30 metre run in the 50th minute. Time and again the ball came back for the Kings who, at times didn’t seem to know what to do with all the possession.
The Blue Bulls certainly had the better of the Kings in the scrums. One scrum leading to a chip ahead and a heart in the mouth blistering run from speedster Akona Ndungane who was superbly brought down with 5 metres to go to the Kings tryline.
Wave after wave of bulls players tried to penetrate until stoppage in the 57th minute with players bodies littering the field crying out for the magic water. Then – a scrum to the Bulls 10 metres out from the Kings tryline, followed by a penalty to the Bulls with Piet van Zyl doing the damage and taking the Bulls to 21 points against the EP Kings 6.
Not a good situation to be in with 20 minutes left.
Problems with the Kings scrum in the 62nd minute gifted the Bulls with one more penalty which they decided to kick for touch looking for 7 points, which they got with Captain Deon Stegman who slipped past two players and added 5 more points to the Bulls tally with Piet van Zyl adding the 2 nails in the coffin.
After 65 minutes: Blue Bulls 28 and EP Kings 6.
And then in the 67th minute disaster struck as EP King lock, David Bulbring was sent to contemplate his sins in the naughty corner.
One minute later a superb chip ahead and onto the EP Kings tryline dropped into the hands of Akona Ndungane who just dropped to the ground to score, BUT, the TMO revealed some aggressive foul play by Blue Bulls number 6 and Captain, Deon Stegmann who was sent off with a Red Card (Don’t pass go, do not collect R200.00).
And the teams were back to 14 players each with a card in the hand.
But the penalties against the Kings kept coming and the Bulls made hay by gaining territory again, pushing hard to gain advantage from a tiring EP defense.
Superb last gasp running from Gates and Soyizwapi brought the Kings to within 5 metres in the 78th minute. Scrum down to the Bulls who cleared ahead. Back in possession the Kings charged again and again for the line looking for a redeeming 5 pointer.
A penalty on the hooter saw the Kings tap and go – 6 phases later the Kings, Darron Nel crashed over for the redeeming try easily converted by Tobie Botes for the Kings to advance to 13 points.
Final score: EP Kings 13 Blue Bulls 28.
- EP Kings (6) 13 – Try: Darron Nel. Conversion: Tobie Botes. Penalties: Scott van Breda (2)
- Blue Bulls (11) 28 – Tries: William Small-Smith, Bjorn Basson, Deon Stegmann. Conversions: Piet van Zyl (2). Penalties: Piet van Zyl (3)
Next game EP Kings vs Cheetahs on 20 September 2014 at home.