Kwagga Smith scored a hat-trick as the Golden Lions beat the Eastern Province Kings 51-14 in Saturday's Currie Cup clash in Port Elizabeth.
It was not pretty for the Kings who leaked six tries in the match as last year's beaten finalists showed they will once again be a force to be reckoned with alongside Western Province. The Kings meanwhile are set for a tough term.
The Golden Lions were a cut above their hosts in the first-half as they boasted a 28-0 lead with only 17 minutes on the clock thanks to tries from Kwagga Smith (2), Courtnall Skosan and Howard Mnisi getting them motoring. That was the bonus-point sealed as they went looking for more against a leaky defence.
Smith and Skosan in particular were impressive with ball in hand, the former using his Sevens expertise to time his support play to perfection on the flank.
Credit to the Eastern Province Kings though who got the better of the second quarter of the game as wing Sylvain Mahuza crossed for a converted try, with Golden Lions fly-half Marnitz Boshoff replying off the tee to make it 31-7 at the interval. It was a healthy cushion for the visitors.
The Golden Lions were just as dominant in the second stanza as further tries from Smith, for his hat-trick on 68 minutes, and finally Anthony Volmink on the left with three minutes to play gave Boshoff a tough effort to kick them over 50 points.
Unfortunately for the Kings their only offering of the half had come from replacement prop Simon Kerrod, who scored in the 53rd minute to give them a small slice of hope that was swiftly put to rest by the superior Lions, who looked impressive.
For EP Kings:
Tries: Mahuza, Kerrod
Cons: Van Breda 2
Yellow card: Ferreira
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Smith 3, Skosan, Mnisi, Volmink
Cons: Boshoff 6
Pens: Boshoff 3
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Sylvain Mahuza, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Luther Obi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Cornel Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 Jacques Engelbrecht, 19 Paul Schoeman, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Karlo Aspeling, 22 Siyanda Grey.
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Stokkies Hanekom, 22 Jaco van der Walt.
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Jason Jaftha, Francois Pretorius
TMO: Marius Jonker