Pumas squeak home against Cheetahs
The Pumas did just enough to squeak home 36-35 (halftime 12-16) against the Free State Cheetahs in a Vodacom Cup match played in Ermelo on Saturday.
The home side, who beat the SWD Eagles 35-26 in round one last week, had their flyhalf Ricardo Croy to thank for a second successive win.
The Pumas were outscored by four tries to three but it was Croy, the former Eagles pivot, who kicked four penalties, three conversions and a drop goal for a personal haul of 21 points.
For the visitors, who beat the Valke 55-19 in Bloemfontein in week one, centre Corné Uys and scrumhalf Tertius Carse each scored a brace of tries, with flyhalf Johan Goosen adding 15 points through three conversions and three penalties.
In a nailbiting finish to a high-quality game, it was the boot of Croy that looked to have had the final say. His 78th-minute drop goal made it 36-30 to the Pumas but the Cheetahs weren’t finished.
Launching one final counter-attack, Uys finally crossed for his second three minutes after the hooter to make it 36-35, only for Goosen to miss what would have been the winning conversion.
Earlier it was the Cheetahs who held a slender four-point lead at the break, thanks to a try from Carse and a conversion and three penalties from Goosen.
The Pumas opened the scoring through a Croy penalty and the flyhalf succeeded with three more before the break before three second-half tries saw them home.
The first came four minutes after the restart when fullback Coenie van Wyk, the former Maties flyhalf, crossed for Croy to convert.
But tries to Uys and Carse (his second) kept the Cheetahs ahead 30-19 before Deon Scholtz scored on the hour to keep the Pumas in the hunt.
Trailing by four points, it was eighthman Christo le Roux who finally put the Pumas in front when he barged over with nine minutes remaining for Croy to convert to make it 33-30.
That set things up perfectly for the final five minute of high drama, with Croy’s drop goal, and Goosen’s final miss, sealing the result.
Pumas 36 – Tries: Deon Scholtz, Coenie van Wyk, Christo le Roux. Conversions: Ricardo Croy (3). Penalties: Croy (4). Drop goal: Croy.
Cheetahs 35 – Tries: Corné Uys (2), Tertius Carse (2). Conversions: Johan Goosen (3). Penalties: Goosen (3).