Potchefstroom - The Pumas finished top of the Vodacom Cup North Section log as they held off a fast-finishing Leopards XV to secure a narrow 29-28 victory in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The Pumas will now host a quarterfinal match, while the Leopards stayed in third place in the standings. However, they could be overhauled by Griquas, four points back, and the Golden Lions, a further point behind.
Griquas and Golden Lions were set to face the Valke and Limpopo Blue Bulls respectively on Saturday.
Both teams scored three tries at Olen Park, but in the end the Pumas had the boot of flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout to thank for their victory as the pivot succeeded with four penalties and a conversion for a personal haul of 14 points.
The Leopards made a fast start to the game thanks to two penalties from flyhalf Warren Gilbert, but the visitors narrowed the gap with a penalty from Bezuidenhout before they took the lead in the 16th minute when flank Uzair Cassiem rumbled over for an unconverted try.
The Pumas grabbed their second try 10 minutes before the break when prop Vincent Koch barrelled his way over as the visitors went to half-time holding a 13-6 lead.
Gilbert and Bezuidenhout traded penalties within six minutes of the restart before the hosts moved back in front when lock Brendon Snyman went over for a try.
Bezuidenhout kicked yet another penalty to push the Pumas into a 19-14 lead but the home side snatched back the lead in the 64th minute when fullback Hoffman Maritz glided over for a converted try.
Bezuidenhout restored the Pumas' lead almost immediately with another penalty before left wing Rosko Speckman went over for a converted try with 11 minutes remaining.
However, the Leopards refused to give up and they grabbed a losing bonus-point when flank HP Swart crashed over with seven minutes left in the match.
Leopards XV - Tries: Brendon Snyman, Hoffman Maritz, HP Swart. Conversions: Adrian Engelbrecht (2). Penalties: Warren Gilbert (3).
Pumas - Tries: Uzair Cassiem, Vincent Koch, Rosko Speckman. Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout. Penalties: Bezuidenhout (4).