Kwagga Smith scored a hat-trick as the Golden Lions sealed a 71-7 bonus-point win over the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result sees the Lions moving up to fifth place on the Currie Cup log. If they beat the Sharks at Ellis Park in the final round of the league stage, they will qualify for the semi-finals.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann is likely to demand a sharper showing in the wake of the win against the Kings. While the Lions emerged convincing winners, there were times when they took poor options and their handling let them down.
Indeed, it took all of 30 minutes for the visitors to take control of the contest. The Kings did well to limit the Lions’ attacking space in the early stages, and forced the visitors to make mistakes.
Howard Mnisi proved to be the catalyst for the Lions. The powerful centre showed his strength, speed, and skill in the buildup to a try that gave the Lions a 12-7 lead.
The Lions proceeded to add two further tries before half-time and claim the four-try bonus-point. Captain Kwagga Smith scored his first try on the stroke of half-time to put his team in a commanding position.
The Kings defence grew worse as the contest progressed. The Lions added seven more tries in the second stanza.
Smith claimed his second try in the 63rd minute. Thereafter, the game opened up completely, and Smith showcased his sevens skills to beat the cover defenders and score his third try of the game.
Mnisi rounded off a strong all-round performance with his second try of the evening in the 70th minute. Mnisi’s midfield partner Jacques Nel also finished strongly, claiming his second try right on full-time.
EP Kings – Try: Sampie Mastriet. Conversion: Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Golden Lions – Tries: Ruan Ackermann, Howard Mnisi (2), Koch Marx, Kwagga Smith (3), Antony Volmink, Jacques Nel (2), Sylvian Mahuza. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (5), Andries Coetzee (3).
EP Kings – 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Alcino Izaacs, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Ricky Schroeder (c), 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Brandon Brown, 6 Luke van der Smit, 5 Sebastian Ferreira, 4 David Antonitei, 3 Pieter Stemmet, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Justin Forwood.
Subs: 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 Jaques Nel, 12 Howard Mnisis, 11 Antony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith (c), 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 JP du Preez, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Cyle Brink, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Andries Coetzee.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images