Two late tries from the New Nation Pumas enabled the Mbombela side to share the spoils 40-40 (halftime 19-26) against DHL Western Province in the Carling Currie Cup at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.
John Dobson will be furious with his side, conceding too many penalties which allowed the Pumas to fight back the way they did with flyhalf Eddie Fouche punishing Province with pin-point kicks out of hand and to the corner, with four of the Pumas’ six tries coming from mauls close to the line.
The Pumas dominated possession and territory while Province scored from almost every visit to their opponents 22m area. Province scored six tries through wing Edwill van der Merwe, centre Dan du Plessis, prop Sanzi Sandi and utility back Tristan Leyds while Boks Sevens veteran Seabelo Senatla grabbing a brace. Flyhalf Tim Swiel landed five conversions.
Fouche scored the Pumas first try as well as landing five conversions while hooker Simon Westraadt, flank Daniel Maartens, lock Shane Kirkwood, centre Erich Conrje and replacement hooker Eddie Swart all dotted down for the visitors.
Province opened the scoring as early as the third minute when a great break by lock David Meihuizen opened up space for Van der Merwe with the left winger racing down the left to score a converted try. But the Pumas hit back almost immediately when Fouche produced a wonderful dummy in open play to waltz through untouched to level matters after 11 minutes.
The hosts then grabbed two tries in three minutes as first a cross-kick from Swiel found Du Plessis on the wing with the centre snatching the ball and dotting down in the right hand corner. Senatla then scored the first of his tries after a powerful drive from No. 8 Evan Roos with Senatla beating a few defenders to score again in the right hand corner to give Province a 12-point lead halfway through the first stanza.
WP’s errors on the ground allowed the Pumas to kick for the corner and with a powerful maul Westraadt controlled well to score the Pumas’ second try. Province hit back with just two minutes left of the first half with Sandi barging his way over the line but the Pumas, after another Province penalty, mauled again on the stroke of halftime, with Westraadt coming up short, but Maartens was alert, picking up and diving over to leave the visitors just seven points adrift at the break.
Province restored their 14-point lead early in the second stanza with Senatla showing his brilliance yet again. The veteran danced his way down the right side of the field, before cutting inside and offloading to scrumhalf Paul de Wet, who was brought down just before the line, but Senatla was on hand to receive the pop-pass and dance over for his second score of the afternoon.
The Pumas though would not give up and after a scrum penalty against WP, lock Kirkwood found himself up against Leyds, who was unable to stop the barnstorming lock from going over. The teams headed into the final quarter of the match with Province holding a tenuous seven-point lead.
Province, being on the attack, were putting the Pumas under some serious pressure and twice Swiel offloaded inside to Leyds with the second effort being rewarded with a try to the utility back to give the home side a 14-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
But Province’s discipline counted heavily against them while the Pumas used their forward dominance to good effect. The try to bring them within seven points again was another strong maul close to the Province line but so was the determination from the visitors that centre Cronje joined the charge, controlled well at the back before swivelling away to score.
Then came the tell-tale point of the match when Province were again penalised and Fouche punted the ball down to the corner. The Pumas mauled once again and this time, replacement hooker Swart dived over before Fouche landed the conversion to level matters.
Province attacked from the kick-off but were founding wanting at the breakdown and were penalised again. The Pumas were happy with the away draw and played the ball into touch.
The Pumas move up into third position on the log with three games in the tank while Province move up to fifth place, two points behind the Pumas also after nine games.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Seabelo Senatla (2), Edwill van der Merwe, Dan du Plessis, Sanzi Sandi, Tristan Leyds; Conversions: Tim Swiel (5).
New Nation Pumas – Tries: Eddie Fouche, Simon Westraadt, Daniel Maartens, Shane Kirkwood, Erich Cronje, Eddie Swart; Conversions: Fouche (5).