Flyhalf Chris Smith scored 22 points to steer the Pumas to a 42-19 victory over Griquas in the first round of the Currie Cup in Nelspruit on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The halfback pair of Stefan Ungerer and Smith, helped by plenty of go-forward from their pack, starred for the hosts, grabbing a try each. Smith also kicked four conversions and three penalties.
The Pumas made a strong start, dominating the first 10 minutes, with Smith kicking a couple of penalties and captain Hennie Skorbinski then making a perfect run onto a flat pass from Ungerer to score and ensure the hosts fully capitalised.
Griquas hit back when fullback AJ Coertzen burst through a gap from close to go over. Flyhalf George Whitehead’s conversion stretched the lead to 13-7 at half-time.
The second half was completely one-sided with Ungerer scoring an early try against the post, before Smith slotted his third penalty to extend the Pumas’ lead to 16 points.
Smith then charged down a poor clearance from Whitehead to grab a try of his own, adding another conversion with wing Neil Maritz plucking the ball out of the air and racing away for the home side’s fourth try.
Marnus Schoeman made his return to the Pumas a happy one, going over from the back of a rolling maul.
Griquas scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer then burst over from a quick-tap penalty as the visitors started a late comeback, with No 8 Conway Pretorius showing his pace to gather a chip and score but it was not enough as the Pumas held out in the closing stages to claim the win.
Pumas – Tries: Hennie Skorbinski, Stefan Ungerer, Chris Smith, Neil Maritz, Marnus Schoeman. Conversions: Smith (4). Penalties: Smith (3).
Griquas – Tries: AJ Coertzen, Christiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius. Conversions: George Whitehead (2).
Pumas – 15 Gerrit Smith, 14 JP Lewis, 13 Ryan Nell, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (c), 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Kwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Jeandré Rudolph, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Trompie Pretorius.
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (c), 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Godfrey Ramaboea, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Conway Pretorius, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 FP Pelser, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Khwezi Mkhafu, 1 Devon Martinus.
Subs: 16 AJ Le Roux, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Ruan Kramer, 19 Pieter Van Vuren, 20 Izak Burger, 21 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Andre Swarts.
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images