The Pumas produced a stirring second-half performance to record a 33-15 bonus-point victory over Griquas in Nelspruit on Friday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
It was the second consecutive home victory for Jimmy Stonehouse's team, reward for their clinical execution on a night where they spent long periods of the game without the ball.
The visitors dominated the early proceedings, with their territorial advantage edging over the 80% mark during the first quarter. They were guilty of wasting a number of chances, though, with PJ Vermeulen and Marnus Schoeman both coughing up the ball with the tryline in sight.
Schoeman would make amends, going over for his team's first try following a driving maul. A Justin van Staden penalty would restore the Pumas lead a minute later before Trompie Pretorius got his first try after a flowing backline move.
Griquas would hit back, though, and it was debutant Dean Grant who showed the type of play that made him a success in the Varsity Cup. Receiving the ball on the edge of the Pumas' 22, he stepped inside two defenders before brushing off Heinrich Steyl to go over. He converted his own try as the visitors went into the break leading 12-11.
The second half was more straightforward as the visitors' challenge faded, with ill-discipline costing them dearly once again. Pretorius grabbed his brace courtesy of some poor Griquas defence, before Renaldo Bothma crashed over after more strong work by the Pumas forwards.
It looked like the Pumas would come up short in their bid for a bonus point as the clock ticked down. They would get their reward, though, and it would come off the last move of the game. Following the decision to kick for the corner, they set up the rolling maul as the whole team piled in to drive them across the line and secure a valuable five log points.
Pumas – Tries: Trompie Pretorius (2), Renaldo Bothma, Corné Steenkamp. Conversions: Justin van Staden, JC Roos. Penalties: Van Staden (2), Roos.
Griquas – Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Dean Grant. Conversion: Dean Grant. Penalty: Grant
Pumas – 15 Heinrich Steyl, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Trompie Pretorius, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Swys du Toit, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Dee-Day Terblanche, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Dylan Frylink, 21 JC Roos, 22 Rosko Speckman.
Griquas – 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Wayne Stevens (c), 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Ruan Lerm, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Doppies la Grange, 22 Niel Marais.
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images