Nelspruit - The Pumas made a triumphant return to top-class domestic
rugby with a determined 28-21 (half-time 15-16) victory over the Free
State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup Premier Division match at the
Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
It took a controversial 66th-minute
try by outside centre JW Jonker to seal the Pumas' victory, after
eighthman Renaldo Bothma tapped a grubber from Stefan Watermeyer back
infield even though his legs were on the touchline.
Bothma, who was a rampaging ball-carrier throughout, was clearly in
touch, the laws state that "a player in touch may kick or knock the
ball, but not hold it, provided the ball has not crossed the plane of
The Cheetahs had only themselves to blame for
their loss, however, as they failed to gain a platform up front and made
a host of unforced errors.
The Pumas kept pressure on the visitors through an excellent scrum and their abrasive defence.
Free Staters opened the scoring in the fifth minute through a sustained
attack started and ended by wing Rayno Benjamin, but the Pumas'
forwards quickly began to make their presence felt, dominating the
scrums and harrying the Cheetahs at the breakdown.
try came in the 20th minute as fullback JW Bell tapped a ruck penalty
and darted through a gap left by lock Francois Uys, who was busy
scuffling with another player.
Flyhalf Justin van Staden added the conversion to his earlier penalty and the Pumas were 10-7 up.
Pumas scored their second try in the 32nd minute as flank Corne
Steenkamp, the captain celebrating his 150th game, went over from a
maul, but Free State flyhalf Willie du Plessis ensured the visitors were
16-15 up at the break with three penalties.
Cheetahs began to lose their discipline in the second half, with Van
Staden punishing them for being offsides with a penalty and scrumhalf
Sarel Pretorius joining the Pumas flyhalf, in the first half, in being
yellow-carded for kicking the ball away after the whistle had blown.
high tackle by lock Carl Wegner allowed Van Staden to kick another
penalty and stretch the Pumas' lead to 21-16 in the 62nd minute and the
hard-working home side were then rewarded for their effort with a third
try four minutes later.
Jonker's try was awarded with the
confirmation of the Television Match Official and the vagaries of the
law were then further exposed shortly afterwards when Cheetahs wing
Raymond Rhule had a try disallowed for his foot landing on the touchline
while he was carrying the ball.
The Free Staters were awarded a
scrum under the poles instead, from which Benjamin scored his second
try, but the steeliness of the Pumas won out in the end as they ended
the match by holding on to the ball for 15 phases.Scorers:
Tries: JW Bell, Corne Steenkamp, JW Jonker
Conversions: Justin van Staden (2)
Penalties: Van Staden (3)
Tries: Rayno Benjamin (2)
Conversions: Willie du Plessis
Penalties: Du Plessis (3)
15 JW Bell, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Spekman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 Dejay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch
Substitutes: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Sinoyuvo Nyoka, 21 JC Roos, 22 Jerome Pretorius
Free State Cheetahs
15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Neil Claasen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Kevin Stevens
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenburg, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Renier Botha, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 JP du Plessis