The Free State Cheetahs have one foot in the semi-finals of the Currie Cup after they beat the Pumas 43-37 at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The bonus-point win temporarily propelled the Cheetahs to second in the Currie Cup standings. They now have 17 points, two behind log-leaders Griquas with one round of fixtures to play. The Free State side play Western Province in their final fixture next weekend and a win would be good enough for a home semi.
The Cheetahs outscored the Pumas seven tries to six after they initially struggled to convert their dominance into points in the first half.
The Pumas led 22-17 at the break after they hit the Cheetahs on the counter on more than one occasion. Centre Alwayno Visagie scored two of his three tries in the first half, as the men from Nelspruit looked good for only their second win of the season in their final fixture.
However, the Cheetahs were a lot more clinical in the second half, and scored five brilliant tries to keep their Currie Cup playoff hopes alive. Flyhalf Louis Fouche scored 21 points on the day, including a late try, which ended up being the difference between the two teams.
Pumas – Tries: Alwayno Visagie (3), Devon Williams, Jeandre Rudolph. Conversions: Chris Smith (3). Chris Smith (2).
Free State Cheetahs – Benhard Janse van Rensburg (2), Clayton Blommetjies, Ruan Pienaar, Jasper Wiese, Louis Fouche. Conversions: Louis Fouche (5). Penalties: Louis Fouche (2).
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Henko Marais, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ashlon Davids, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Carel du Preez, 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblance, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ginter Smits, 21 Jaco Marais, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell, 23 Ngonidzashe Chidoma.
FS Cheetahs –15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Tian Meyer (c), 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dwebe, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sitnu Manjesi, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dian Badenhorst, 23 Tapiwa Mafura.
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix