Pampas XV hammer Leopards, go top
The Pampas XV hammered the Leopards 38-20 (halftime 17-10) at Olën Park in Potchefstroom on Saturday night to record their fifth straight win in the Vodacom Cup and go top of the South section of the competition.
With three rounds remaining of the round robin, the men from Argentina have 22 points -- two clear of a congested field that includes Western Province (20), the Sharks XV (20), EP Kings (17) and Free State (17).
With the top four from each section qualifying for the quarterfinals, an interesting five-way tussle looks set to unfold in the coming weeks.
Right wing Agustin Gosio scored two of the Pampas team’s five tries, all of whom were converted by their points machine at flyhalf, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias.
The home team -- if you could call the Leopards that given that the Pampas XV have made Potchefstroom their base this year -- replied with three tries of their own but as other teams have already found out this season, the Pampas side are as well-rounded as any team in the competition.
Led by eighthman Leonardo Senatore, the Argentinians once again proved that they have a pack that will take some stopping as the season continues, while the likes of Gosio, Juan Imhoff on the other wing and Tomas Cubelli at scrumhalf gave direction and sting to their numerous attacks.
It was Gosio who opened the scoring with barely two minutes played, although the Leopards showed five minutes later that they would not simply lie down when skipper and eighthman Christo van Niekerk barged over for flyhalf Clayton Durand to level the scores.
The two flyhalves traded penalties before the Leopards were dealt a blow when Durand was forced to leave the field in the 24th minute, to be replaced by the dependable Cecil Dumond.
As with all good teams, the Pampas XV gained a crucial advantage when they scored just before and after the break to suddenly open up a 24-10 lead.
That soon became 31-10 when Cubelli darted over with half an hour left to effectively seal the contest, although Joubert Engelbrecht did grab one back for the Leopards when he dived over two minutes later.
But Gosio responded almost immediately with his second, converted by Iglesias, to make it 38-15, leaving Leopards wing Johannes Seerane to grab a final score on the hour mark that gave the scoreboard operators their last bit of work to do for the night.
Pampas XV 38 – Tries: Agustin Gosio (2), Tomas Cubelli, Mariano Galarza, Juan Imhoff. Conversions: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias (5). Penalty: Iglesias.
Leopards 20 – Joubert Engelbrecht, Johannes Seerane, Christo van Niekerk. Conversion: Clayton Durand. Penalty: Durand.