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Pumas survive Lions fightback

MATCH REPORT: The Pumas maintained their dream start to the Currie Cup season with a  hard-fought 34-27 win over the Lions at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

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At the back of an impressive 63-15 win over the Bulls at Loftus Verfeld in Round, the Pumas came into the fixture as clear favourites.

They took a 17-3 lead, thanks to tries Diego Appollis and Devon Williams, coupled with two conversions and a penalty from Brandon Thomson at the break.

*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!

However, an impressive second-half fightback made sure the fixture went down to the wire.

The Lions scored four tries in the second half to level matters at 27-all in the dying minutes of the match. But a late Diego Appollis try to snatch the victory and handed his Jimmy Stonehouse’s the full house of log points.

The Pumas showed early intent with the ball in hand, but failed to convert their opportunities to points and instead it was the Lions who drew first blood. Vaughn Isaacs kicked a long-distance penalty to hand the visitors a 3-0 lead.

The Pumas hit back immediately, and from a strong scrum, Giovan Snyman found Ali Mgijima, who fed Diego Appollis for the first try of the match. Thomson added the extras for the 7- 3 lead.

In the 32nd minute, the visitors tried to set up an attack but some sloppy passing by to be costly as the try-scorer turned provider Appollis picked up a loose ball before finding Devon Williams, who dived over in the corner for the converted try.

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The Pumas extended their lead with a Thomson penalty for a comfortable 14-point lead at the interval.

Trailing 3-17, the Lions started the second half in much better form, they enjoyed possession and territory and had an early five-metre attacking lineout. They crossed the whitewash via Jarod Cairns however the try was disallowed due to obstruction by the flank himself.

The Lions kept the Pumas inside their own 22 and eventually, after multiple phases Boldwin Hansen dived over on the wing.

Pumas again hit straight back and from the back of a rolling maul, Andre Fouché powered over the line, 22-10 after 55 minutes.

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Cairns finally got his name on the scoreboard with a maul try, narrowing the deficit to just seven points.

Pumas had their bonus point, following a ray of pick-and-goes, prop Corne Fourie launched himself over the line.

With 10 minutes left of the clock, Steyn put in a great offload to send Isaacs in a gap for the try.

It was a dramatic ending as a loose pass by Thomson was intercepted by Hansen, who scored his second try and levelled matters at 27-all.

However, with less than five minutes on the clock, the Pumas had the last say. From an error by Isaacs knocking the ball on in his won 22, the Pumas had possession and eventually Appollis, who scored his team’s first try, linked up with Williams and cruised over for the try and seal a thrilling win.

Man of the match: Lions Boldwin Hansen scored a double for his team, while Jarod Cairns also showed great fight. For the Pumas Ali Mgijima with his big hits and strong runs deserves a mention. However, our nod goes to Pumas centre  Diego Appollis, who not only scored a brace of tries but the centre also set up a try.

The scorers:

For Pumas:
Tries: Appollis 2, Williams, Fouché, Fourie
Cons: Thomson 3
Pen: Thomson

For Lions:
Tries: Hansen 2, Cairns, Isaacs
Cons: Isaacs 3
Pen: Isaac

Teams: 

Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Lundi Msenge, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Andre Fouché, 5 Shane Kirkwood (captain), 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Njabulo Gumede, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Etienne Janeke, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Malembe Mpofu, 20 Ruwald van der Merwe, 21 Chriswill September, 22 Ethan Fisher
23 Stefan Coetzee.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Rynhardt Jonker, 12 Tyler Bocks, 11 Boldwin Hansen, 10 Vaughan Isaacs, 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Travis Gordon (captain), 7 Ruan Delport, 6 Jarod Cairns, 5 Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Rhynardt Runsburger.
Replacements: 16 Morne Brandon, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Kabous Bezuidenhout, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Sibusiso Sangwen, 22 Nico Steyn, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Quinton Immelman

*Photo credit: Johan Orton

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