The Pumas scored two tries in the final 15 minutes to grab a 30-17 win against the Sharks in the Provincial Rugby Challenge semi-final in Nelspruit on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Tries from replacement prop De-Jay Terblanche and scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer helped steer the Pumas into the final after the Sharks had led 17-13 in the second half.
After an indifferent first half where both sides struggled to make the best of their opportunities, the Pumas turned in a strong second half to take the game away from the Sharks.
The Pumas took an initial lead early on thanks to a try from wing Ruwellyn Isbell, but the Sharks quickly responded when Gideon Koegelenberg ran on to a soft pass from Franco Marais to dive over.
Garth April put his side into the lead with a penalty, but Chris Smith replied with a penalty of his own to make it 10-10 at half-time.
The hosts started brilliantly with Smith’s chip collected by Justin van Staden, who then showed quick hands to move the ball to Isbell, who sprinted in for the first try.
However, the Sharks replied with a try of their own after a break from Makazole Mapimpi brought them on to the Pumas’ 5m line. Koegelenberg then ran on to a soft pass from Marais to dive over, with April’s conversion levelling matters.
The Pumas started the second half the better team, with Smith kicking his second penalty to give them the lead.
However, the Sharks retook the lead when flank Kwanda Dimaza showed impressive gas to sprint through a gap and score under the posts.
Smith then kicked his third penalty to bring his side within a point of the Sharks, before the Pumas went on the offensive and got full reward when Terblanche and then Ungerer – playing against his former side – went over.
Pumas – Tries: Ruwellyn Isbell, De-Jay Terblanche, Stefan Ungerer. Conversion: Chris Smith (3). Penalties: Smith (3)
Sharks – Tries: Gideon Koegelenberg, Kwanda Dimaza. Conversions: Garth April (2). Penalty: April.
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images