Marnus Schoeman scored two tries as the Pumas beat the Golden Lions 43-20 at Ellis Park to book their place in the Vodacom Cup final. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Lions, boasting a perfect record in the competition, went into Friday's match as overwhelming favourites, while the Pumas had lost twice and snuck into the play-offs.
But it was the visitors who started brightly, racing out to a 13-point lead with a converted try through Bernardo Botha and two JC Roos penalties.
The Lions had to live off scraps as they were starved of possession and territory by a fired-up Pumas outfit. They were dealt a further blow when captain Ricky Schroeder was stretchered off the field. But his replacement Lohan Jacobs did well to get the Lions on the scoreboard with a drop goal from the left-hand touchline.
However, two tries in the space of three minutes by Lambert Groenewald and Rudi Mathee put the Pumas 25-6 up at the interval, with Kobus de Kock adding a late penalty for the Lions.
A totally transformed Lions side came out from the sheds, as they dominated the lineouts, scrums and breakdowns early in the second half. They hit back with scores from inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and wing Damian Engledoe, while Pumas centre Jerome Pretorius sat in the sin bin.
But having their healthy lead cut to just five points didn't sit well with the visitors. They made several substitutions and it worked wonders as they wrestled back the momentum. Roos landed two more penalties between Schoeman's brace to wrap up the result and a spot in the final.
Golden Lions – Tries: Damian Engledoe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Kobus de Kock (2). Penalty: De Kock. Drop goal: Lohan Jacobs.
Pumas – Tries: Bernardo Botha, Lambert Groenewald, Rudi Mathee, Marnus Schoeman (2). Conversions: JC Roos (3). Penalties: Roos (4).
Golden Lions – 15 Kobus de Kock, 14 Damian Engledoe, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Ricky Schroeder (c), 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 4 Bobby De Wee, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tyson Mulamba.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Clinton Theron, 18 Jean-Pierre Du Preez, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Gerdus van der Walt, 22 Mark Richards.
Pumas – 15 JW Bell, 14 Bernardo Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (c), 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 JC Roos, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Jason-Collin Fraser, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Rudi Mathee, 3 DJ Terblanche, 2 Jacques Momberg, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Marnus Schoeman, 17 Simon Westraadt, 18 Eduan Van Der Walt, 19 Brian Shabangu, 20 Johan Herbst, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Wilmaure Louw.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images