Pumas shock Sharks in Currie Cup

The Mpumalanga Pumas pulled off their second victory over a Currie Cup big scalp when they beat current Currie Cup champions the Sharks 32-22 in Mbombela on Friday.

The hosts used their majority possession to score a four-try bonus point victory to move to the second place on the Currie Cup log.

Playing an exciting brand of rugby, the Lowveld-based side demonstrated how to win with an expansive mindset.

The Sharks initially did well to soak up the pressure from a probing Pumas attack by exiting well from their own half using flyhalf Fred Zeilinga’s clearance kicking to great effect.

The visitors were unlucky not to score an early try when veteran flanker Jacques Botes — playing in his 150th Currie Cup match — planted the ball millimetres from the line.

Instead the Sharks took an early led thanks to a Zeilinga penalty conversion in the sixth minute.

The Pumas only got onto the scoreboard in the 21st minute when flyhalf Justin van Staden slotted a penalty conversion. Two minutes later the Pumas grabbed the lead as they attacked from depth to score the first try of the night.

Winning a scrum penalty, Pumas eighthman Renaldo Bothma took a quick tap and sent the ball wide to dangerman Rosco Speckman.

The Pumas wing flew down the left-hand touchline before the ball again went infield.

From a ruck metres from the line the ball went to Bothma, who burst over the line for the try, with Van Staden converting.

Van Staden extended the home side’s lead to 10 points with a penalty goal on the half-hour mark, before Zeilinga responded with one of his own two minutes later.

Shortly before the half-time break, the Pumas scored a fantastic try again running from depth.

Standout centre Stefan Watermeyer broke the line before he offloaded to Speckman on his outside, who in turn passed to a flying Van Staden on the wing for the try (18-9).

The Sharks turned in a marked improved performance in the second half as they erased a nine-point deficit to grab the lead once again in the 56th minute.

The visitors started their fightback with a Zeilinga penalty conversion in the 42nd minute.

The Pumas came close to scoring their third try of the night when Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane deliberately knocked the ball down on a Pumas attack inside his 22.

The indiscretion earned Ndungane 10 minutes in the sinbin, while the Pumas opted for a lineout instead of the three points which proved fruitless.

The scales seemed to tip in the Sharks’ favour and in the 55th minute they confirmed this with a five pointer.

The visitors won a tighthead scrum just outside the Pumas 22, with scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann sending a long floating pass wide to Sibusiso Sithole, who offloaded to SP Marais for the try.

Zeilinga converted the try for a 19-18 lead before he extended it with another three-pointer in the 61st minute.

However, the Pumas’ resolve remained strong as they forced their way back into the game.

Ten minutes from time Watermeyer was rewarded for his performance as he finished a Pumas attack, with replacement flyhalf JC Roos converting.

With their tails up, the Pumas added the four-try bonus point with seven minutes on the clock with imposing lock Lubabalo Mtyanda diving over on the left-hand corner.

Roos added the conversion to give his side a well-deserved 32-22 victory.

Final Score 32 (18) Natal Sharks 22 (9)

Scorers

Pumas
Tries: Renaldo Bothma, Justin van Staden, Stefan Watermeyer, Lubabalo Mtyanda
Conversions: Van Staden, JC Roos (2)
Penalties: Van Staden (2).

Sharks
Tries: SP Marais
Conversion: Fred Zeilinga
Penalties: Zeilinga (5)

Teams

Pu

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