Cape Town - Griquas claimed a remarkable 38-35 come-from-behind victory over the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Griquas leapfrog the Pumas off the bottom table and keep their play-off hopes alive. They have now won four of their last five Currie Cup games and showed great character to fight back.
The Pumas came flying out of the blocks immediately, putting pressure on the visitors and Willie Engelbrecht burst over after a series of powerful carries from the forwards. Kobus Marais added the extras as the hosts took an early 7-0 lead with just two minutes gone on the clock.
Griquas flyhalf George Whitehead slotted a penalty a couple of minutes later to cut the deficit to four after Pumas flank Brian Shabangu was penalised for a no-arms tackle.
Soon after, the Pumas doubled their lead after an expertly weighted Marais up-and-under was well-collected by scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer who shifted it to Engelbrecht who grabbed his double. Marais slotted the conversion as the hosts extended their lead to 14-3.
In the 22nd minute, the home side grabbed their third when hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg went over at the back of a lineout driving maul. Marais made it 21-3 with the extras.
The Pumas had their bonus-point try after just 25 minutes when Ungerer's up-and-under bamboozled theGriquas defence and captain Hennie Skorbinski pounced on the bouncing ball to show great speed as he ran from the halfway line to cruise under the posts. It was an easy conversion for Marais and his fourth.
Ten minutes later, Griquas pulled one back when Wendal Wehr crashed over after some expansive rugby from the hosts with the ball travelling between forwards and backs in the build-up. Whitehead added the extras to make the score 28-10 five minutes before the interval.
There were no further points scored before the break but immediately after the break Griquas scored their second courtesy of a scintillating backline move and wonderful combination play between Ederies Arendse and Whitehead setting up Tertius Kruger for the try. Whitehead added the conversion to cut the deficit to 11 at 28-17.
Griquas were right back in the game moments later with a Kyle Steyn intercept try as the winger ran coast to coast to dot down.
The Pumas responded with Frankie Herne going over at the back of a well-worked driving maul. Marais added the extras to extend the lead to 35-24 with 55 minutes gone.
However, Griquas immediately hit back when AJ Coertzen made a sublime break before finding Ederies Arendse out on the right wing who handed off Ruwellyn Isbell and had the pace to go all the way. Whitehead slotted the penalty to make it a four-point game at 35-31.
And Griquas took the lead for the first time in the game, capping off a remarkable comeback when Kruger grabbed his brace after an excellent backline move in which the away side stretched the Pumas' defence by going from left to right before Steyn's perfectly timed pass set him up on an inside run to dive over. Whitehead added the extras to make the score 38-35 to Griquas who held on for the last five minutes to clinch a crucial come-from-behind victory.
Tries: Engelbrecht (2), Janse van Rensburg, Skorbinski, Herne
Conversions: Marais (5)
Tries: Wehr, Kruger (2), Steyn, Arendse,
Conversions: Whitehead (4), Swarts
15 Justin van Staden, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 Gerrit Smit, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (captain), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Kwezi Mona
Substitutes: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Hilton Lobberts, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Theo Maree/Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Selom Gavor.
15 Adriaan Coertzen (captain), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 De Wet Kruger, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 FP Pelser, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Liam Hendricks.
Substitutes: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Marius Fourie, 18 Jonathan Adendorf, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Shaun McDonald, 21 Renier Botha, 22 Andre Swarts