Jerome Pretorius scored a brace of tries as the Steval Pumas secured a 33-15 (halftime 11-12) bonus-point Absa Currie Cup victory over the GWK Griquas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday night.
The first half was a tale of missed opportunities for the visitors as the men from Kimberley dominated possession and territory but had only a single point advantage going into the break.
Marnus Schoeman had a chance to score the first try of the match after 17 minutes but dropped the ball with an open tryline just five metres out, while PJ Vermeulen did the same thing 15 metres from the tryline.
It was flyhalf Justin van Staden who opened the scoring for the home side after just two minutes with a penalty from the halfway line after the entire Griquas backline was caught offside.
The visitors then dominated proceedings without making any headway as the Pumas defence and lack of finishing from Griquas meant the home team hung on to their three-point lead until the half hour mark.
The Griquas were awarded a penalty and Francois Brummer sent the ball into touch five metres out. Jaco Nepgen took a clean ball and set up the maul but the Pumas were up to the task, but the visitors added numbers and swivelled the maul to the right and drove over the line where Schoeman stood up with the ball in hand for an unconverted try.
But straight after the kickoff, the Pumas were awarded with their second penalty 25 metres out and Van Staden calmly slotted his attempt to regain the lead for his side.
Three minutes later and the hosts shocked the Griquas with their first attacking attempt. Jerome Pretorius dived over the line in the right-hand corner after the Pumas had moved the ball down the left hand side of the field, recycled the ball and then sent the ball to the right wing where Pretorius cut inside JW Jonker and beat two defenders to give the hosts a six point lead as Van Staden missed the conversion.
Griquas grabbed a deserved lead just before halftime with a converted try by Dean Grant. The debutant flyhalf showed fantastic running skill by side-stepping two defenders and then went over the line for a brilliant individual effort. Grant converted the try himself after Brummer missed two earlier attempts.
The Pumas showed some great ball-handling skill in the second stanza, illustrated by Pretorius at the start of the second period.
The right-winger received a good offload from fullback Heinrich Steyl, who drew two defenders and then fed the winger who dropped his shoulder and bumped off a defender to go over untouched to hand the Pumas a four-point lead.
Grant reduced the deficit to one point just three minutes later with a penalty but the home side stepped up with a converted try through powerhouse No 8 Renaldo Bothma.
Bothma broke away from a strong maul and drove two Griquas defenders back over the tryline for a powerfully individual try. Van Staden added the extra two points as the Pumas entered the final quarter of the match with an eight-point lead.
JC Roos, who replaced Van Staden with 20 minutes remaining in the game, converted his first attempt at goal with a penalty form 40 metres out to extend the lead to 11 points.
The final quarter of the match saw the visitors lose their composure as they conceded penalty after penalty.
The Griquas tried to regain the dominance they enjoyed in the first half but the Pumas defence stood firm.
The best was yet to come from the home side as the Griquas conceded a penalty two minutes from the final whistle for obstruction from their own maul just five metres from the Pumas tryline.
Roos cleared to touch and produced one of the most amazing maul’s in Currie Cup history as 12 of the Nelspruit-boys joined in on the maul and powered their way all-of 45 metres to score their bonus-point try after the hooter had sounded.
Corne Steenkamp stood up with the ball in hand but credit had to go to almost the entire team.
Steval Pumas – Tries: Jerome Pretorius (2), Renaldo Bothma, Corne Steenkamp; Conversions: Justin van Staden, JC Roos; Penalties: Van Staden (2), Roos.
GWK Griquas – Try: Marnus Schoeman, Dean Grant; Conversion: Grant; Penalties: Grant.