Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
3 minute read
3 Jun 2022
8:08 pm

Pumas upset Cheetahs in Currie Cup

Ross Roche

The Pumas were good value for their win and have now moved into fourth on the log, three points ahead of the Sharks, giving them a great chance to make the play-offs.

Cheetahs scrumhalf and captain Ruan Pienaar passes the ball from the back of a scrum during the Currie Cup match against the Pumas in Bloemfontein on Friday night. Picture: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images

A terrifically gritty performance from the Pumas saw them upset the Cheetahs and claim a thrilling 29-28 win in their Currie Cup match at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday night.

The Cheetahs have dramatically lost form over the past two weekends and now need a bonus point win over the table topping Bulls in their final pool match next weekend, while not allowing the Bulls a bonus point to claim top spot on the log.

After starting the competition with a nine match winning run, the Cheetahs were favourites to finish top, but have now lost their last two games against the Griquas in Kimberley and at home against the Pumas.

The Pumas were good value for their win and have now moved into fourth on the log, three points ahead of the Sharks, giving them a great chance to make the play-offs.

Against the run of play

In the match it was the Cheetahs who got off to the better start in the game, only for the Pumas to open the scoring against the run of play.

A lineout near the halfway saw the Cheetahs on attack just in their own half, but with them spreading the ball quickly down the line a pass from wing Rosko Specman went loose, allowing Pumas fullback Devon Williams to pick up the ball and sprint away to score, with inside centre Eddie Fouche adding the extras.

The Cheetahs then hit back in the 16th minute as they set up a lineout deep in the Pumas 22m and powerfully mauled it over, with hooker Louis van der Westhuizen dotting down and captain Ruan Pienaar slotting the conversion to draw the scores level at 7-all.

The Pumas then went back ahead again against the run of play as an overthrown lineout from the Pumas just in their own half, saw their flyhalf Tinus de Beer run onto the ball at pace, step past a Cheetahs defender and go over for a converted score to take a 14-7 lead after 33 minutes.

The Cheetahs then thought they had their second maul try of the game just before halftime, but the TMO brought the referees attention to a technical infringement, with the try overturned giving the Pumas a seven point lead at halftime.

Starting with a bang

The Pumas then started the second half with a bang as they worked their way into the Cheetahs 22m, with Fouche then stabbing a grubber over the tryline for Williams to chase and dot down, putting them 19-7 within a minute of the restart.

The Cheetahs however struck back in the 46th minute as they set up a 5m lineout and duly drove it over, with flank Gideon van der Merwe having the honours of dotting down, with Pienaar’s conversion making it 19-14.

The back and forth battle continued as five minutes later the Pumas struck back with their own maul try, hooker Eduan Swart breaking through a fractured defence to dive over, as Fouche slotted the conversion to put them 26-14 ahead.

The Cheetahs then rumbled over their third maul try, Van Der Westhuizen scoring his second, with the conversion making it 26-21 after 56 minutes.

A 60th minute penalty from Fouche then pushed the Pumas out into an eight point lead, giving them some valuable breathing room.

A fantastic 50/22 from Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies then gave the Cheetahs an important lineout in the Pumas 22m, with them securing the ball, attacking and spreading the ball quickly, with a skip pass from Pienaar finding wing Daniel Kasende to go over in the corner.

A brilliant touchline conversion from Pienaar then made it a one point game with five minutes left in the match.

The Cheetahs then had a last chance to win the game with a long range penalty from near the touchline, but Pienaar’s attempt was wide of the mark, which allowed the Pumas to hold on for a nailbiting victory.

Scorers

Cheetahs: Tries – Louis van der Westhuizen (2), Gideon van der Merwe, Daniel Kasende; Conversions – Ruan Pienaar (4)

Pumas: Tries – Devon Williams (2), Tinus de Beer, Eduan Swart; Conversions – Eddie Fouche (3); Penalty – Fouche