Pumas completes Cheetahs' humiliation
CURRIE CUP REPORT: The Pumas kept alive their hopes of reaching the play-offs, as they comprehensively beat the Free State Cheetahs 42-14 in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The victory heaps humiliation on the Cheetahs, who – for the first time in more than a century – have gone through an entire season without winning a game.
The Cheetahs have not gone through a season without winning at least one match since 1898.
In 1894 they lost all three their Currie Cup matches and in 1898 they lost all four their Currie Cup matches. Since then they have won at least one match in the regular season.
The Pumas arrived in Bloemfontein needing to pick up a full house of points and they obliged their fans, running in six converted tries to the two from the home team.
The men from Nelspruit returned to winning ways after losing three matches on the trot, but only have one match left to play in the competition’s round-robin stage and will need to beat the Golden Lions in their final match in two weeks time, as well as having other results go their way, in order to make the semifinals.
In greasy conditions, the Pumas showed some good ball-handling skills to secure their bonus point before half-time, running in their four tries through right wing Morné Joubert, outside centre Neil Maritz and a brace from his centre partner, Ryan Nell, all of which were converted by the young stellar flyhalf, Chris Smith.
Nell opened the scoring after 10 minutes, thanks to a deft touch of the boot by man of the match, Stefan Ungerer. The scrumhalf saw that no one was home behind the poles and dropped the ball onto the boot with Nell racing through to dot down. The Pumas extended their lead to 14 points after Ungerer produced another piece of brilliance.
The experienced scrumhalf broke away, looping around the backline and then floated a pass to Joubert, who went over in the right hand corner and despite the tight angle, Smith converted with ease. Nell was back in the thick of things on the half hour mark, receiving a pass from Smith and the popping Joubert into space down the right hand touchline.
Joubert drew in the defenders and then fed the ball back to Nell, who shook off the last defender to score his second of the night and hand the Pumas a healthy 21-point lead as Smith added the extra two points.
But the Cheetahs, who were boasting a young side, hit back through former Blue Bulls scrumhalf, Rudy Paige. The nuggety Cheetahs captain picked the ball up from a ruck on the Pumas line and then forced two Pumas forwards over the line to score the Cheetahs first try, which flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg converted to narrow the gap back to 14 points.
But the Cheetahs’ frailties on the left wing were exposed again as the Pumas moved the ball to the right where a pop-pass from Number 8, Jeandre Rudolph found Maritz and the centre raced down the line to score the bonus-point try.
The Cheetahs were found wanting in the scrums, line-outs and with their handling as some promising attacks in the second half were brought to an abrupt end with the ball being spilled out of hand.
But the home side fought on in the second stanza and were rewarded with their second try of the evening with a powerful run from flanker Jannes Snyman. Snyman picked up a loose ball and broke through two tackles before forcing his way over with two Pumas defenders trying to stop him.
But that was all the Free State scorers wrote home about as the Pumas hit right back from the kick-off, with the Pumas Number 6, Marnus Schoeman forcing his way over the line and then with six minutes remaining on the stadium clock, replacement hooker, Simon Westraadt, barged his way over after the Pumas had mauled from a line-out five meters out from the Cheetahs tryline.
The win moves the Pumas into fifth spot on the log with 12 points from five games – three behind Western Province and the Sharks, who have both only played three matches.
Man of the match: For the Cheetahs loose forward Abongile Nonkontwana was the most productive. A number of the Pumas backs – Devon Williams, Morné Joubert, Ryan Nell and Christopher Smith impressed. Pumas flank Marnus Schoeman showed why he will be playing Super Rugby with the Lions next year. However, our award goes to Pumas scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer – who produced a fine all-round display and often created opportunities for his teammates.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Paige, J Snyman
Cons: Stapelberg, Carelse
For the Pumas:
Tries: Nell 2, Joubert, Maritz, Schoeman, Westraadt
Cons: Smith 5, Marais
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Free State Cheetahs: 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige (captain), 8 Daniel Maartens, 7 Jannes Snyman, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 Louis Conradie, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Reinach Venter, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Johan Kotze.
Replacements: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Stephan van Schalkwyk, 18 Nardus Erasmus, 19 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Reinhardt Erwee, 22 Maputa Dolo.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams; 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel; 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer; 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (captain), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg,1 Morgan Naudé.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse and Jaco Kotze
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe