Steval Pumas come close to log-leader upset

Reynier van Rooyen. Photo: Johan Orton

The giant-killing Pumas have beaten both the Xerox Golden Lions and the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Mbombela and were only beaten in the final straight by the Sharks when reserve full back Rhyno Smith
scored the winning try after a possible forward pass.

The Pumas were in it to win it and an early try by left winger Ruwellyn Isbell and a penalty goal by Kobus Marais gave them an 8-0 lead but the Sharks fought back with two tries by Jeremy Ward and S’busiso Nkosi for a 15-8 lead at the break.

The Pumas took advantage of their numerical advantage after the break when both Akker van der Merwe and Jacques Vermeulen were sin-binned shortly before half-time. Two tries, first by the flyer JP Lewis and then captain Hennie Skorbinski gave the Pumas a healthy lead and when Keegan Daniels went in with his forearm at the back of Skorbinski’s head Marais’ penalty from the halfway line that gave the Pumas a definite chance of beating the Sharks.

KZN reserve flanker, Wian Vosloo scored from a driving maul which set up Smith’s try after a floater from Garth April.

Pumas flanker Chris Cloete was immense at the breakdown and Thembelani Bohli and Stefan Willemse carried the ball strong.

The three players again proved to be huge acquisitions.

“The players put on a great fight, but we lost critical line outs and not being able to keep possession cost us the game. There were a lot of unforced penalties which allowed the into our half. We need to be more accurate in executing our plans. It is most disappointing not to pull the game through, but the Sharks are a good side and all credit to the them,” said Pumas coach Brent Janse van Rensburg.

The Pumas will play their last Currie Cup home encounter before the play-offs against the DHL Western Province on Friday. Defending champions, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs suffered a huge loss against Western Province going down 57-14. The Sharks still top the Currie Cup log with 34 points with the Pumas moving to fifth on the log with 18 points.

Kick-off is at 19:00.

André Bester

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