Eastern Province Kings 12 Wales 34
7:55pm Tuesday 10th June 2014 in Sport
THE BULLIED became the bullies as Wales kicked off their tour of South Africa with a 34-12 success against Eastern Province Kings.
Warren Gatland's second string didn't quite rack up a beating to make the Springboks quiver but it was a comfortable victory at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Possibles' first-half performance against the Probables in the Wales trial – when they shipped 34 unanswered points against the Test XV – prompted fears of an upset against the Kings.
But it was clear from the off that there would be no mishap.
The game had the feel of an encounter in the opening weeks of a Lions tour rather than one of the tougher fixtures as the Test series approached.
Wales totally bossed possession and territory against a side that were playing their first game of the season ahead of the Currie Cup.
Thankfully the spirited hosts recovered from a very shaky start to make it a worthwhile exercise with blindside Dan Lydiate blowing away the cobwebs ahead of the first Test against the Springboks on Saturday.
He came through unscathed, as did fellow inked-in starter Alex Cuthbert, while centre Cory Allen, hooker Matthew Rees and fly-half James Hook did their chances of bench spots no harm. The choice between Rhodri Williams and Gareth Davies as scrum-half Mike Phillips' back-up may be a tad tougher.
Penalties were kicked to the corner from the off and flanker Josh Turnbull profited from one powerful drive to open the scoring.
Hook added the extras and repeated the trick in the 17th minute when centre Cory Allen went over from number eight Dan Baker's smart offload.
That stirred the hosts into action and they enjoyed a spell of pressure with Wales tighthead Rhodri Jones sin-binned for not retreating 10 metres at a quick tap.
However, the Kings were unable to force their way over and it was the tourists that ended the half on the front foot with Hook banging over a penalty for a 17-0 lead at the break.
The new Gloucester fly-half made it 24-0 when centre Steve Shingler spotted there was no full-back and chipped over for Hook to cross and he was soon followed by Cuthbert, who finished smartly in the right corner.
That should have been prompted a flood of tries as Wales attempted to make a statement ahead of the Springboks encounter but instead it was the Kings who deservedly crossed, wing Siviwe Soyizwape going over down the right.
That woke the tourists up and replacement scrum-half Davies thought he had gone over down the left only for the try to be chalked off for a forward pass by fellow new arrival Aaron Shingler.
The Scarlets number 9 didn't have to wait long to cross, however, showing the pace that saw him top the Pro12 try chart to race over down the opposite flank and make it 34-5 inside the final quarter.
That was it for Wales and it was the hosts who had the final say when loosehead Kevin Luiter powered over from close range.
Kings scorers: tries – S Soyizwape, K Luiter; conversion – G Whitehead
Wales scorers: tries – J Turnbull, C Allen, J Hook, A Cuthbert, G Davies; conversions – J Hook (3); penalty – J Hook
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