Nelspruit - Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has praised his charges for their resilience in claiming the Currie Cup First Division title in emphatic style, beating the Eastern Province Kings 53-30 in Nelspruit on Friday.
"To win 16 out of 16 matches, you have to give yourself and the players credit," Stonehouse said after the match.
"I don’t think it will easily happen again to a team and it has been an incredible achievement."
There may have been some debate over whether the Mpumalanga team would be tuned in for the match ahead of their promotion-relegation matches against Griquas.
The Pumas, however, rejected any such notion by playing out of their skins and scoring six tries against the visitors.
The fact that the hosts scored two tries in the final 10 minutes of the match, when they were down two men, made the feat even more impressive.
Stonehouse said the convincing victory would hold them in good stead ahead of the first promotion-relegation match next Friday in Kimberley.
"We played unbelievable rugby, especially when we only had 13 players on the field, and we wanted to end the competition this way before the playoff," he said.
"If we lost tonight it would have been a downfall for what we want to achieve going forward."
The Pumas mentor said while they had a tough two weeks ahead of them, they would bask in their achievement before they shifted their focus to the matches against Griquas.
"We can enjoy tonight but tomorrow we will put it behind us because there are two weekends, that will be even be tougher than tonight, that lie ahead," Stonehouse said.
He said the team needed to go back to the drawing board after their scrums buckled against the opposition and they needed to improve this if they wanted to edge Griquas out.
“They (Griquas) have a very strong scrum. Tonight went a bit better in terms of our execution of the rules but we obviously did something wrong and we will have to have a look at it," he said.
Kings coach David Maidza said they were beaten by a team that was simply better on the night, while his side made too many mistakes against a rampant Pumas team.
"What I’ve seen with the naked eye is we just made too many errors and they pounced on every single error," Maidza said.
"We just couldn’t defend our errors and unfortunately every game is about 80 minutes, especially a final.
"Those margins are very small and we couldn’t allow them to have as much ball as they did. They’re a very good side, but we just didn’t play well."
Maidza said his team conceded far too many turnovers, which allowed the Pumas’ strike runners ample attacking opportunity.
Pumas fullback Coenie van Wyk was particularly impressive on the night scoring a hat-trick of tries.
"In three lineout turnovers and they scored a try, one tighthead turnover and they scored a try, two knock-ons from which they scored," Maidza said.