JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March8- The Tusker Simba XV had a memorable debut performance as they beat the Eastern Province Kings to record a notable 17-10 (halftime 5-5) victory in their Vodacom Cup match played at City Park, Cape Town on a blustery Saturday afternoon.
The crowd had barely settled into their seats when the referee awarded a penalty to the Kings which they kicked to the corner.
Big flanker Claude Tshidibi scored from the lineout maul and the Kings led 5-0 with virtually no time gone on the clock.
Centre Scott van Breda was unsuccessful with his attempted conversion from the left hand touchline. The wind was a major role-player and the Tusker Simba XV was pinned in their own territory for long periods of time.
A rare foray in the Kings half saw winger Leonard Mugaisi score a good try to level the scores. Flyhalf Kenny Andola missed the conversion and the two teams remained deadlocked until the halftime break.
The Kings spurned many chances to kick for goal and a poor display in the lineout saw them unable to convert their possession and territory into points.
This was further evident when the Kenyans were reduced to 14 men after eightman Joshua Chisanga was sent to the bin for repeated infringements. Despite having a numerical advantage the team from Port Elizabeth could simply not finish off any of their chances.
After the interval the Kenyans had a moment of magic as an attempted drop kick by Andola was poorly dealt with by the Kings and somehow the ball came out on the side of the Tusker Simba XV.
Mugaisi was on hand to dive over the line and score his second try of the afternoon. Andola found his target with the conversion and the lead was 12-5 to the Kenyans.
Minutes later hooker Maxwell Kangu showed a burst of speed that belied his age of 30 years to finish off a superb piece of attacking play. The subsequent kick at goal resembled a soccer corner rather than a rugby conversion and the lead remained 17-5.
The Kings threw everything at the Kenyans and despite a few bright moments from replacements such as Brian Skosana and Selvyn Davids they were unable to find the try line.
When replacement prop Pieter Stemmet barged his way over to narrow the gap to 17-10 the Kings it summed up the afternoon perfectly when Van Breda hit the post with his conversion attempt.
The Kenyans held on in the final minutes to make sure they opened their account with a win and send the Kings back home to do some serious soul searching.
TUSKER SIMBA XV – Tries Leonard Mugaisi (2) Maxwell Kangu; Conversion: Kenny Andola
EASTERN PROVINCE KINGS – Tries: Claude Tshidibi, Pieter Stemmet; Yellow card: Joshua Chisanga (Tusker Simba XV, repeated infringement)