The Pumas kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 42-14 bonus-point win over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Although this is just the second win of the Currie Cup season for the Pumas, they may still harbour hopes of sneaking into the semi-finals after leapfrogging their way into fifth place on the standings.
They will now have to hope that the Sharks claim a good win over the Golden Lions, who the Pumas will face in their final league game in Nelspruit on 12 October.
The Pumas’ win on Friday was built on a dominant performance in the opening half, which saw them enjoy the majority of possession, while the forwards provided a solid platform at scrum time.
Scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, who is set to join the Kings after the Currie Cup, particularly enjoyed an industrious start to proceedings as he provided the assists for the Pumas’ first two tries.
Within the first period, centre Ryan Nell also wrapped up a brace of tries as the Pumas raced into a commanding 28-7 lead at the break.
The Cheetahs were much-improved after the interval, and finally displayed a willingness to hang on to possession, with some reward coming via a try to Jannes Snyman just after the hour mark.
However, the Pumas restored their bonus-point position when Marnus Schoeman was awarded a somewhat contentious five-pointer soon after, and replacement Simon Westraadt then went over for the team’s sixth try.
That double strike ensured the Pumas would come away with the desired result, while condemning the Cheetahs to a winless season.
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Rudy Paige, Jannes Snyman. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (2).
Pumas – Tries: Ryan Nell (2), Morné Joubert, Neil Maritz, Marnus Schoeman, Simon Westraadt. Conversions: Christopher Smith (5), Kobus Marais.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige (c), 8 Daniel Maartens, 7 Jannes Snyman, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 Louis Conradie, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Reinach Venter, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Johan Kotze
Subs: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Stephan van Schalkwyk, 18 Nardus Erasmus, 19 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Reinhardt Erwee, 22 Maputa Dolo.
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (c), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Morgan Naudé.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images