Cheetahs surge past Pumas

The Cheetahs overturned a 10-point deficit in the second half to claim a 35-31 win over the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.

The Cheetahs, as defending Currie Cup champions, headed into this clash hunting their first victory in the competition and a result that would see them close the gap on the top four.

However, the Pumas have proved to be a challenging opponent throughout the domestic season, and demonstrated just that once again as they took a 12-7 lead into the break after a scrappy first half from both sides.

In a match affected by wet weather, the Pumas seemed to be growing in belief, and with their maul working to good affect the hosts struck again from a lineout drive to open up a handy 10-point buffer early in the second half.

Yet, the Cheetahs responded with two driving lineout tries of their own through Andisa Ntsila to power into a 21-17 on the hour mark as Frans Steyn also continued to slot the conversions from acute angles.

Another try came through this set-piece source soon after, and in a matter of minutes the Cheetahs suddenly led 28-17.

Things did get briefly interesting when Pumas No 8 Willie Engelbrecht hit back with his side’s fourth try late in the game, but the result would be sealed when replacement Cheetahs scrumhalf Tian Meyer went over for a well-worked try.

Pumas – Tries: Simon Westraadt, Le Roux Roets, Daniel Maartens, Willie Engelbrecht, AJ le Roux. Conversions: Devon Williams, Ginter Smuts (2).
Cheetahs – Tries: William Small-Smith, Andisa Ntsila (2), Louis van der Westhuizen, Tian Meyer. Conversions: Frans Steyn (5).

Pumas – 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Etienne Taljaard, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Devon Williams, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (c), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Ignatius Prinsloo, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude.
Subs: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Ewart Potgieter, 21 Ginter Smuts, 22 Tiaan Botes, 23 Wayne van der Bank.

Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Dries Swanepoel 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 William Small-Smith, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Aidon Davis, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner (c), 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Boan Venter.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Rhyno Smith.

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Craig Lewis