The Pumas bounced back from an eight-point half-time deficit to beat the Sharks 27-20 in Nelspruit on Saturday.
The Pumas have boosted their chances of qualifying for the Currie Cup semi-finals. The struggling Sharks will be hard-pressed to make the final four from here.
The visitors took some time to settle. Indeed, it was only after Willie Engelbrecht was shown a yellow card for what appeared to be a regulation cleanout that they started to build through the phases and threaten the Pumas defence.
Lwazi Mvovo rounded off some enterprising play to score the Sharks’ first try in the 12th minute. Kobus van Wyk finished well to claim his side’s second, while Curwin Bosch added a third after he took the ball to the gainline and then backed himself to outpace the defence.
Chris Smith kicked three penalties to keep the Pumas in the contest. The momentum shifted after half-time when Francois Kleinhans scored an intercept try and Smith nailed a simple conversion to reduce the deficit to a single point.
The Pumas took an important lead following a try by hooker Simon Westraadt. The Sharks were forced to fight tooth and nail to prevent the hosts from adding to their try tally as the game moved into the fourth quarter.
The Pumas landed the killing blow in the 77th minute. Reserve hooker Craig Burden was shown a yellow card and Smith stepped up to slot the penalty.
Pumas – Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Simon Westraadt. Conversion: Chris Smith. Penalties: Smith (5).
Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Kobus van Wyk, Curwin Bosch. Conversion: Bosch. Penalty: Bosch.
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Ryan Nell (c), 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.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Alwayno Visagie, 23 Morgan Naude.
Sharks – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (c-c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c-c), Phendulani Buthelezi, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
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