Griquas down Pumas in thriller

Clinton Swart kicked 21 points as Griquas defeated the Pumas 41-35 in Nelspruit on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.

While Griquas were out to prove their victory over the Golden Lions was no fluke, the Pumas were in pursuit of their first victory in the tournament.

It made for an exciting five-try contest, but in the end it was the visitors who came from behind twice to prevail. The result is the Pumas’ third straight defeat and keeps them rooted to the foot of the standings.

Swart played a pivotal role in the result, kicking eight from nine of his attempts off the tee, while energetic scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen chipped in with a brace of tries.

In a battle that swung one way, then the other and back, the Pumas’ attacking structures were much improved compared to their attempts in previous outings, but the poor defence by both sides has to be lamented.

After trading penalties early on, the hosts built up up momentum with the driving maul, but after the referee issued them with a call to use it, the ball was spread wide to winger JP Lewis, who finished in the corner. Francois Brummer failed to convert and when Van Rooyen scored for Griquas with a move down the blindside, Clinton added the extras for the lead.

But their time in front was brief as a 10-point haul pushed the Pumas ahead again despite the hosts’ clear lack of possession in opposition territory.

Griquas spent large periods inside the Pumas half, but with the hosts ferociously and accurately attacking the ruck area, Griquas’ momentum was stalled. This prompted Griquas to chip away at the deficit via two penalties from Clinton, before they struck a double blow either side of the interval through Van Rooyen and speedster Alshaun Bock for a commanding 30-18 adtantage.

Notwithstanding their tiresome defence, the Pumas were not deterred and wrested back the ascendancy with tries by Marnus Schoeman and Frankie Hern in the space of five minutes and when Griquas fluffed a good try-scoring opportunity after having turned down three points on offer with a kick to the line, it looked like the Pumas would pull off an unexpected victory. But the penalty count against them in the final minutes proved costly.

Swart would add two more penalty goals, before a brilliant rip in the tackle saw flank Wendal Wehr score against the run of play. There was another successful shot at goal for Brummer, but that would only be enough secure them a second bonus point.

Pumas – Tries: JP Lewis, Jannie Stander, Marnus Schoeman, Frank Hern. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3). Penalties: Brummer (3).
Griquas – Try: Rudi van Rooyen (2), Alshaun Bock, Wendal Wehr. Conversions: Clinton Swart (3). Penalties: Swart (5).

Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Bernardo Botha, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Leighton van Wyk, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Emile Temperman, 8 Renaldo Bothma (c), 7 Nardus van der Walt, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Frank Herne, 1 De Jay Terblanche.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Jacques Kotze, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Marlou van Niekerk, 22 Hoffmann Maritz.

Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 JW Jonker, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Steve Meiring, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swarts, 22 Eric Zana.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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