Cape Town - The Blue Bulls have recorded their first win of this season's Currie Cup as they defeated Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
As it happened: Pumas v Blue Bulls
The Pretoria-franchise won 25-17 after leading 12-10 at half-time.
Both teams came into the match desperate for a win after opening their campaigns with back-to-back losses, the Pumas having tasted defeat against the Griquas and Lions, and the Bulls coming off second best to the Cheetahs and Western Province.
But it was the Pumas who struck first courtesy of winger Etienne Taljaard after a beautiful length-of-the-field try in the opening stages.
It was a steal from Jeandre Rudolph that set up the Pumas counter-attack from their own 5m line, with Taljaard crossing over in the end following a brilliant team effort.
It took the Bulls just two minutes to respond and level the scores through Rosko Speckman, however, as the No 11 pulled off a smart intercept pass before dotting down.
And it was that man Specman who put the visitors in front for the first time in the match on 23 minutes following an attacking move that started in the Bulls' own half and ended with the speedster crossing the line.
The conversion was missed, and when Pumas flyhalf Chris Smith kicked a three-pointer shortly before the half-time whistle it left the Bulls just 12-10 up at the interval.
The second half started with Bulls No 10 Marnitz Boshoff kicking his side's first penalty of the game to restore their five-point advantage.
But the Pumas would retake the lead not long after when Willie Engelbrecht scored their second try of the evening after a kick from Boshoff was charged down.
Smith added the extras to put the Pumas 17-15 up, but the Bulls would retake the lead with 11 minutes to go following another penalty, this time from substitute Manie Libbok, and then delivered what turned out to be the killing blow just a couple of minutes later with their third try.
It was a hat-trick for Specman as he chased down a kick-through from Dylan Sage before dotting down, as Libbok added the extras to make it an eight-point ball game.
And there was no way back for the Pumas from there in the closing stages, as the Bulls held on for a valuable win that keeps their play-off hopes alive.
Next week the Pumas are up against the Sharks at Mbombela Stadium (Saturday, August 3 - 15:00) while the Blue Bulls host the Griquas on Saturday (17:15).
Tries: Etienne Taljaard, Willie Engelbrecht
Conversions: Chris Smith, Henko Marais
Tries: Rosko Speckman (3)
Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok
Penalties: Boshoff, Libbok
15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Ryan Nell (capt), 12 Henko Marais, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Christ Smith, 9 Ashlon Davids, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel
Substitutes: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Alwayno Visagie, 23 Morgan Naude.
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Dylan Sage, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Tim Agaba , 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima
Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Jade Stighling