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They made heavy weather of it, but the Boland Cavaliers eventually wore down a determined 14-man Pumas outfit to run out deserving 25-22 winners in a Currie Cup clash in the Winelands on Friday.
A late try by replacement back Robbie Louw – the son of former Springbok flank Rob – saw the home side grab a vital four points for just their second win of the competition in five matches.
A red card to Pumas outside centre Tyler Fisher for leading with the elbow and striking Boland wing Gerrit van Wyk in the face in the 27th-minute saw the visitors reduced to 14 men at the Boland Stadium in Wellington.
But it was the men from Mpumalanga who dominated large periods of the game despite their disadvantage due to a powerful pack of forwards led superbly by Namibian No 8 Renaldo Bothma.
The Pumas unit were especially strong in their lineout drives and opened the scoring in the eighth minute in that fashion when hooker Frank Herne barged over after repeated mauls were illegally stopped by Boland.
The howling wind behind their backs in the first half perhaps lulled the Pumas into a false sense of security as they were unable to convert their possession and territory into points as the last pass or wrong option at critical moments led to their downfall.
Instead, Boland chipped away and even after losing captain and centre Ryan Nell to an ankle injury in the 11th minute, flyhalf Theuns Kotze got them on the board with a penalty.
Boland’s pack were under pressure, though, and flank Shaun Adendorff was yellow-carded for going in from the side at yet another driving maul. But their defence held on, and they worked their way upfield when fullback Adriaan Carelse went into the flyhalf channel and threw an elaborate dummy to score in the right-hand corner in the 20th minute.
Seven minutes later, Fisher’s ill-judged decision to lift his elbow into the face of Van Wyk when carrying the ball saw the Boland wing fly to the ground and go off. Referee Marius van der Westhuizen asked for a recommendation from TMO Marius Jonker, who had no hesitation in saying it was a definite red card.
Yet Boland still couldn’t get going, and only added a drop goal on the stroke of half-time by Kotze to lead 13-5 at the break.
But it was as if the home side had one less player as the Pumas came storming back in the second half, with first Bothma and then centre Leighton-Ray van Wyk scoring tries to put the visitors back into the lead at 18-17 with 25 minutes left.
Boland got a bit of a second wind in the last quarter, though, with Adendorff making up for his first-half indiscretion by ripping the ball in the tackle to dive over and put his team back into the lead.
Man-of-the-Match Carelse delivered the decisive moment of the match with eight minutes to go when he produced a superb ‘Sonny Bill’ offload five metres out, which Louw did well to catch and crash over to give Boland a 25-17 lead.
The Cavaliers just needed to hold on, but there was a late defensive error that saw Pumas replacement scrumhalf Kevin Luiters – the nephew of Springbok coach Allister Coetzee – who threw an audacious dummy to wrong-foot the defence and score with two minutes to go to secure a four-try bonus point.
But Boland held on for a much-needed victory after their 60-point beating at the hands of the Golden Lions last week.
Final Score Boland 25 Pumas 22
Tries: Adriaan Carelse, Shaun Adendorff, Robbie Louw
Conversions: Theuns Kotze (2)
Penalty: Theuns Kotze (1)
Drop Goal: Theuns Kotze (1)
Tries: Frank Herne, Renaldo Bothma, Leighton-Ray van Wyk, Kevin Luiters
Conversion: Francois Brummer (1)
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