Pumas down brave Eagles
The Pumas opened their Vodacom Cup campaign with a hard-fought 35-26 (halftime 12-12) win over the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday night.
The visitors outscored their hosts by five tries to four and only managed to pull away on the scoreboard in the final 12 minutes after being deadlocked at the break.
For the Pumas, flanker Jaco Bouwer and captain Hans van Dyk both enjoyed excellent games. Bouwer scored a brace and Van Dyk once as the men from Mpumalanga displayed all of the grit that is the hallmark of a Currie Cup Premier Division team.
But it was the Eagles who raced into a 12-5 lead after 26 minutes thanks to tries from winger Howard Noble, converted by flyhalf Ambrose Barends, and tighthead prop Dean Hopp.
The Pumas responded with a first try to Bouwer in the 22nd minute before Van Dyk crashed over on the stroke of halftime for flyhalf Coenie van Wyk to convert and level the sores.
Bouwer made it 17-12 within two minutes of the restart with his second try but the Eagles responded through flanker Lyndon Hartnick’s try that Barends converted to give them a 19-17 lead.
Van Wyk, the former Maties pivot, slotted a penalty from the restart, then scored a try four minutes later to open up a six-point lead for the Pumas. Former Eagles No 10 Ricardo Croy then rubbed salt into the home side’s wounds when he converted his own try with 12 minutes remaining to make it 32-19.
The Eagles’ never-say-die attitude, which saw them come painfully close to Premier Division promotion last year, was in evidence again in the closing minutes when centre Wentsley Scott went over for fullback Deroy Rhoode to convert and narrow the gap to just six points.
But it was Croy who was to have the final say, slotting a penalty three minutes from time to silence the home supporters.
SWD 26 – Tries: Howard Noble, Dean Hopp, Lyndon Hartnick, Wentsley Scott. Conversions: Ambrose Barends (2), Deroy Rhoode.
Pumas 35 – Tries: Jaco Bouwer (2), Hans van Dyk, Coenie van Wyk, Ricardo Croy. Conversions: Van Wyk, Croy. Penalties: Van Wyk, Croy.