Pumas rise to the top
Pumas rise to the topSHARE
The Pumas will play in the Currie Cup Premier Division in 2014, after winning promotion with a 33-15 demolition of Griquas in Nelspruit on Friday.
Griquas will hope for a more favourable outcome in the boardroom, with ongoing speculation that the eight-team Premier Division could be put back on the table at a special general meeting of the South African Rugby Union in December.
But the day belonged to the Pumas, who lost their Currie Cup status in the boardroom – when it was reduced from eight to six teams a few years ago – but have now won the right to play in the top flight by winning on the pitch.
The Pumas – who outscored Griquas by three tries to none – held a four-point (16-12) lead at the break, despite being down to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Griquas dominated the scrums in the first half, so much so that the Pumas won the ball from just one scrum the entire 40 minutes – and then it was just before the break, ironically on Griquas' feed inside the Pumas 22.
The most amazing aspect was that as poor as the Pumas' scrums were before the break, they turned it around dramatically and won a string of penalties at the set pieces in the second half.
And that proved to be decisive, as Griquas just never got back into the game after that.
The Pumas laid down an early marker, after a Gouws Prinsloo penalty in the third minute opened the scoring.
A poor clearance, from the restart, was fielded by Coenie van Wyk, who went on a run and then offloaded to Stefan Watermeyer, who went over in the left corner. Flyhalf JC Roos, who had a near flawless game with the boot, slotted the conversion for a 7-3 lead.
Prinsloo kicked a second penalty to make it a one-point (6-7) game, before two more Roos penalties gave the home side a 13-6 lead.
Then flank Renaldo Bothma got himself sin-binned for a high tackle and from the resulting penalty Gouws Prinsloo narrowed the gap to four points (9-13).
Prinsloo slotted a fourth penalty just after the half-hour mark (12-13), before Roos landed a sweetly-struck drop-goal to give his team a four-point lead at the break.
There was a dramatic turn of events 10 minutes into the second half – when Jean Stemmet was yellow carded for a professional foul (slapping the ball down) and a penalty try was awarded to the Pumas. The conversion made it an 11-point game (23-12).
A Prinsloo penalty in the 66th minute briefly gave Griquas hope of another dramatic comeback, as they did in Kimberley last week, but when Roos landed his third penalty in the 71st minute the writing was on the wall – 26-15.
Try as they might, Griquas failed to find a way back into the game – with the powerful Pumas defence and their own sloppy handling preventing them from building any real pressure.
And wing Rosco Specman put the seal on it when he pounced on a ball dropped by Springbok Willie le Roux to sprint 50 metres from a try three minutes from time.
Roos slotted the conversion to make the final score 33-15.
Man of the match: JC Roos and Francois de Klerk dictated terms from the halfback positions for the Pumas, with Ross's boot a vital weapon. Captain Corne Steenkamp also had a massive game, but our award goes to Pumas flank Renaldo Botha. He was a monster on defence and with the ball in hand and more than made up for his sin-binning for a silly high tackle midway through the first half.
For the Pumas:
Tries: Watermeyer, Penalty try, Specman
Cons: Roos 2
Pens: Roos 3
Pens: Prinsloo 5
Yellow cards: Renaldo Bothma (Pumas, 23 – foul play, dangerous tackle), Jean Stemmet (Griquas, 52 – professional foul, deliberate slap down)
Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 RW Kember, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Rudi Matthee, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Drew van Coller/Stephan Kotze, 19 Eduan Van Der Walt, 20, Uzair Cassiem, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Jerome Pretorius.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Patrick O'Brien, 4 Rynhardt Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Janro van Niekerk, 18 Nick Schonert, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 JP Nel, 22 Nico Scheepers.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Sieg van Staden, Cobus Wessels
TMO: Johan Greeff