THE Pumas ended their Currie Cup First Division rugby season on a high, at the Eastern Province Kings’ expense, as the Mpumalanga side lifted the competition’s trophy last night (11/10/13).
The Pumas beat the Kings 53-30 at the Mbombela Stadium to claim their third win over their closest rivals in the competition this season, ending with their unbeaten record intact.
The home side ran riot in the closing stages of the game, despite being two men down, showing their intentions of carrying the momentum to the premier division promotion-relegation matches against Griquas.
Pumas flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout and Kings fullback Scott van Breda were first to put points on the scoreboard with a penalty each as they went through the first quarter of the match level at 3-3, with both sides having a high error-rate.
Pumas No 8 RW Kember broke the deadlock with the first try of the game. Shortly afterwards fullback Coenie van Wyk cut through the Kings’ defence before parrying off Michael Killian to extend the lead to 13-3.
The kickers kept the the scoreboard ticking as they added two further penalties apiece to take the score at the halfway mark to 19-9.
The Pumas started where they left off in the second half as they continued to apply the pressure and force errors from the Kings.
VanWyk added his second try in the 46th minute to widen the gap as the home side led 26-9.
Replacement flyhalf Ntabeni Dukisa had an immediate impact after coming on early in the second half for the visitors.
After adding some spark to the Kings attack, he was rewarded as he crossed over for the visitors’ first try of the match in the 53rd minute.
The try did little to have an immediate inspiration for the Kings as their decision-making and handling errors continued to let them down.
Ill-discipline saw the home side lose two players to the sin-bin, conceding seven points in that period through a converted penalty try. However, the strength of the Pumas saw them also adding to the scoreboard with Van Wyk scoring his third of the game and flank Renald Bothma also dotting down.
A consolation try before the final whistle was not nearly enough to salvage the Kings, dashing any hopes the PE side had of defending the trophy.
Pumas 53: tries: RW Kember, Coenie van Wyk (3), JW Bell, Renald Bothma; conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (2), Dewald Pretorius (2); penalties: Carl Bezuidenhout (5)
Kings 30: tries: Ntabeni Dukisa, penalty try, Kayle van Zyl; conversions: Scott van Breda (3); penalties: Scott van Breda (3)
It was a better day at the office for the Kings junior teams who had impressive showings earlier on as they clinched the titles in their various age-groups.
The under-19 side were crowned First Division champions as they beat the Falcons 49-40 in a close encounter.
The under-21 side ran riot over their Boland counterparts with a 59-19 win after crossing for eight tries to take the under-21 First Division title.
Backline coach Sean Everitt is confident there will be a smooth transition when the Springboks return to the side for the Sharks clash against logleaders Western Province in the last of their round-robin Currie Cup matches in Durban today.
A potential home final is at stake with the winners of the match guaranteed to host the October 26 spectacle should they get through next week’s semi-finals.
The Sharks opted to throw five of their returning Boks straight into the mix with Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Marcell Coetzee all starting. A sixth South Africa player, Patrick Lambie, is on the bench, while Willem Alberts was excluded through injury.
“We had them involved at the start of our campaign, we had them all at our preparation week and they’ve been part of our squad when the Springboks have had their byes,” Everitt said when defending the selection. “They know exactly what’s going on. They’ve always been included and have attended a lot of our games and really been a part of our team. “I don’t see continuity being a problem at all.” He was convinced it would work to the team’s benefit, he said.
“The Springbok players will try to get over the disappointment of losing to the All Blacks and try to move on and create some success with the Sharks. So our playing structures won’t change now that we are getting to the business end of the competition.”
WP coach Allister Coetzee also opted to look to his Springboks this week, by naming four in the starting XV – Juan de Jongh, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth – with Jean de Villiers on the bench.
He admitted it was tough on those who missed out, but felt the strongest available team had to be picked.
“There is always something at stake when you represent Western Province,” Coetzee said. “We will be doing our best to pick up a win and finish the league phase of the Currie Cup unbeaten.”
This is a version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, October 12, 2013.