The Steval Pumas booked their place in the Premier Division after beating the visiting GWK Griquas 33-15 (halftime 16-12) in their Currie Cup Promotion/Relegation match at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday night.
Referee Craig Joubert awarded the Griquas an early penalty after Pumas flanker Renaldo Bothma failed to release the tackled player. Fullback Gouws Prinsloo opened the scoring and the visitors lead 3-0.
An aimless kick by die Griquas was fielded by Coenie van Wyk and he set off on a streaking run which culminated in centre Stefan Watermeyer diving over the whitewash.
JC Roos nailed the conversion and the Pumas took the lead after five minutes of play. Prinsloo tried to narrow the gap after the Pumas were penalised for accidental obstruction for but his attempt hit the uprights.
An injury to lock Rudi Mathee saw a long stoppage in play before Prinsloo made it 7-6 to the Pumas.
RJ Liebenberg gifted the Pumas three points and Roos was on hand to oblige. After 22 minutes of play the Pumas led 13-6, which was cut to 13-9 after Bothma was shown a yellow card after a dangerous tackle.
The ten minutes Bothma spent in the bin saw the Griquas start to look more lively. Prinsloo missed an attempted drop goal and Rocco Jansen thought he had scored a superb try.
A high kick was not dealt with by RW Kember and Jansen danced his way through the would be defenders. The television match official ruled that Prinsloo had knocked on the ball and the Pumas were awarded a scrum.
The Pumas were adjudged to have scrummed illegally and Prinsloo walloped the kick 45 metres to make it 13-12. The final scoring act of the half saw Roos kick a drop goal to nudge the Pumas further ahead before halftime.
The Griquas tried to impose themselves in the ten minutes after the break but it was the Pumas who scored first. With a massive overlap on his outside Watermeyer only had Jean Stemmet in front of him but Stemmet deliberately knocked the ball down and Referee Joubert awarded the Pumas a penalty try.
Roos made it 23-12 and the Pumas had their tails in the air going into the the final stages of the match. He missed an attempt from 44 metres out with the kick drifting past the left upright a few minutes later.
The Griquas were on the attack on the Pumas tryline in the 63rd minute when big lock Ligtoring Ladman knocked the ball on. The visiting pack was penalised at the subsequent scrum and the Pumas had a chance to clear their lines.
Prinsloo gave the Griquas a sniff of a chance when he knocked over penalty No 5 and narrowed the gap to 23-15 with 14 minutes left on the clock.
Another penalty in the scrum saw Roos make it 26-15 with only 10 minutes remaining and the Griquas saw their hopes of remaining in the Currie Cup fading quickly.
The match was put to bed when a moment of brilliance by flying winger Rosco Specman saw him kick the ball out of the reach of scrumhalf Marnus Hugo before he collected the kick and darted nearly 50 metres to score the third and deciding try for the hosts. Roos popped over the conversion to take his personal tally for the evening to 18 points.
Even a missed penalty by Roos in the last minute of the match couldn't take the shine of polished performance by the pivot and the look of sheer joy on the face of coach Jimmy Stonehouse said how much the victory meant to the Pumas Rugby Union and the people of Nelspruit.
Steval Pumas – Try: Stefan Watermeyer, Penalty try, Rosco Specman; Conversions: JC Roos (3) Penalties: Roos (3); Drop Goal: Roos
GWK Griquas – Penalties: Gouws Prinsloo (5)