The EP Kings U19 side registered their third win over their Free State counterparts this season to reach the final of the Absa Provincial Championship with a 31-15 triumph at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday (October 16).
The Kings will meet the winners of the Blue Bulls-Western Province semifinal in the final on October 14.
As they have done for much of the season, the Kings made a strong start to shoot out to 15-0 lead, but then had to withstand a spirited effort from the Free Staters before sealing victory.
While they trailed the whole match, the visitors never stopped trying, typified by their try in the 68th minute from fullback Glenn Eriksen. However, the Kings had built up a solid lead by then, helped in a large part by some accurate goal-kicking.
Flyhalf Michael Brink contributed three penalties and two conversions, while scrumhalf James Hall slotted a long-range penalty to ensure the Kings always maintained a decent lead.
After an opening penalty by Brink, the Kings took control when they cracked the Free State defence out wide from the kick-off for wing Mabhutana Peter to race over.
Two minutes later they were back at it and although Free State scrambled to hold them on the line, prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen forced his way over for the Kings’ second try.
A series of penalty infringements by the Kings then allowed the Free Staters to fight their way back, resulting in prop Janu Botha diving over from a maul following a five-metre lineout to make the halftime score 15-5.
Brink kicked his second penalty soon after the break but the match was in the balance when Free State No 8 Victor Maruping went on a powerful run to score their second try, making it 18-10.
However, the Kings then took control with the penalties by Brink and Hall being complemented by a try from burly No 8 Junior Pokomela, who crashed through the defence from short range after an EP attack.
EP built up a 31-10 lead and time eventually ran out for the Free Staters, notwithstanding their late try by Eriksen.
- EP Kings 31: tries by Mabhutana Peter, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Junior Pokomela; three penalties and two conversions by Michael Brink; one penalty by James Hall.
- Free State 15: tries by Janu Botha, Victor Maruping, Glenn Eriksen.