The Pumas beat Griquas 32-30 in the Provincial Rugby Challenge final in Oudtshoorn on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was heartbreak for Griquas, who seemed set for their first Rugby Challenge title after coming back from a 22-10 half-time deficit to lead 30-22 with 10 minutes remaining.
However, a try from Pumas wing Morné Joubert brought the visitors back into the contest, before replacement Justin van Staden became the hero of the day by slotting a close-range drop kick in the 83rd minute, after a 25-phase attack, to win the match.
Much of the credit must be given to the Pumas forwards, who rampaged Griquas in the first half.
Most impressive was hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg, who scored a brace of tries in the first half. Pumas captain Jeandre Rudolph put in a workmanlike shift, while flank Stefan Willemse was also among the scorers in the first half.
Griquas, who were briefly put ahead by a try from centre Johnathan Francke, attempted a comeback early in the second half with George Whitehead kicking his second penalty before wing Kyle Steyn went over out wide to bring them within a couple of points.
A try from AJ Coertzen, who was in the right place to receive a pop from wing Edries Arendse, then put Griquas ahead, but the Pumas made it a nervous finish when Joubert scurried over to make it a one-point game in the final two minutes.
The Pumas then rumbled the ball up to the Griquas 22 with another maul, taking the ball through several phases, which allowed Van Staden to get into the pocket and slot the winning drop goal.
Pumas – Tries: Marko Janse van Rensburg (2), Stefan Willemse, Morné Joubert. Conversions: Chris Smith (3). Penalty: Smith. Drop goal: Justin van Staden.
Griquas – Tries: Johnathan Francke, Kyle Steyn, AJ Coertzen. Conversions: George Whitehead (3). Penalties: Whitehead (3).
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images