Theo Boshoff slotted a penalty on full-time as Griquas completed an epic comeback against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night to finish third on the Currie Cup table and book their place in the semi-finals.
Western Province’s surprise victory against the Sharks earlier on Friday had already ensured Griquas and the Pumas would advance to the semis, but third place clearly meant something to both teams in Nelspruit as they produced a playoff-calibre contest that ended 45-44 in Griquas’ favour.
Boshoff’s last-minute penalty capped off a 31-point second-half fightback as Griquas recovered from a 30-14 halftime deficit to win, aided in part by two yellow cards against the Pumas duo of Willie Engelbrecht and Phumzile Maqondwana.
The Pumas raced into this lead at the break on the back of a flurry in the second quarter. Winger Tapiwa Mafura, prop IG Prinsloo and scrumhalf Chriswill September dotted down with centre Eddie Fouche adding the extras to go with two earlier penalties and flyhalf Thinus de Beer slotted a drop goal.
The score-burst overhauled two Griquas tries, from scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer and flanker Hanru Sirgel, both converted by flyhalf George Whitehead.
After the restart, replacement scrumhalf Johan Mulder scored first for Griquas but the Pumas hit back through Mafura’s second of the evening.
At the start of the final quarter, Griquas struck twice in quick succession through winger Munier Hartzenberg and then centre Rynhardt Jonker to close within three points of the lead (37-35). Pumas wing Jade Stighling immediately replied with an opportunistic try to stretch the hosts’ lead to nine points.
But, with four minutes to go, replacement Griquas No 8 Werner Gouws crashed over for a try converted by Boshoff, and the 23-year-old then held his nerve as the game clock ticked into the red to slot the winning penalty.