Defending champions, the Pumas remain unbeaten in 2023 after they beat Griquas in Nelspruit on Friday in a repeat of last season’s Currie Cup final.
Leading 7-3 at half time after a tightly-contested first 40 minutes, the hosts survived a yellow card to flyhalf Tinus de Beer after the break and scored three tries in a hard-fought 28-13 victory.
The Pumas won last year’s final 26-19 in Kimberley, which was their only victory in three attempts against the men from the Northern Cape in 2022.
On Friday, tries from Griquas lock Derik Pretorius and Pumas left wing Lundi Msenge were overturned after TMO reviews inside a helter-skelter opening 20 minutes, and the scoreboard remained 0-0 until the closing stages of the first half.
Pumas No 14 Etienne Taljaard touched down under the posts to break the deadlock, after fullback Devon Williams’ well-executed cross-kick to the right edge found outside centre Diego Appollis, whose neat chip-kick set up Taljaard.
De Beer added the extras, yet opposite number Lubabalo Dobela narrowed the gap to four points from the kicking tee before both teams headed into the change rooms.
Dobela struck again from in front of the sticks soon after the restart to make it a one-point game, and Griquas then had a one-man advantage after De Beer got 10 minutes on the naughty chair for a tip-tackle on winger Luther Obi.
But, the visitors failed to capitalise on their one-man advantage, with De Beer returning in the final quarter to split the uprights three times and add to tries from replacement Brandon Thomson and flanker Andre Fouche, sandwiched between a consolation effort from Griquas No 8 Carl Els.
The Pumas will next be in action away to the Free State Cheetahs on Friday, while Griquas face Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday.
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images