The Pumas got their 2021 Currie Cup campaign off to a flying start by downing their neighbours, the Lions, in some style in Mbombela on Friday night.
The home side dominated much of the encounter and scored five tries in the 39-10 victory.
While it was a triumphant day for the Pumas, it was an outing to forget for the Lions. The men from Joburg were well beaten and their coach Cash van Rooyen won’t be pleased with the team’s error rate and the high number of penalties they conceded.
The Lions though started well enough and should have been on the scoreboard as early as the seventh minute but wing Rabz Maxwane knocked the ball on inside the in-goal area – perhaps an indication of things to come. Because not long after that, experienced lock Willem Alberts also hobbled off with an injury.
The visitors’ early dominance though was rewarded when flank Sibusiso Sangweni went over for the opening try, and while Fred Zeilinga contributed a penalty to go with his conversion late in the first half, the Pumas controlled the rest of the encounter.
Two penalties by the impressive flyhalf Eddie Fouche got the home team going and following tries by Etienne Taljaard – thanks to a smart chip, chase and gather by Fouche – and Simon Westraadt late in the first half ensured the Pumas were up 18-10 at the break.
With their scrum and lineout functioning brilliantly and the Lions unable to breach the defences of the home team, the Pumas were able to keep pressing and they simply outplayed the visitors in the final 40 minutes.
They rewarded with three further tries in the second half – first by No 8 Willie Engelbrecht, who showed great power to barge over from the back of a five-metre scrum, then from replacement prop Dewald Maritz, from a lineout drive, and finally from replacement scrumhalf Ginter Smuts, from a quick-tap penalty.
Pumas: Tries: Etienne Taljaard, Simon Westraadt, Willie Engelbrecht, Dewald Maritz, Ginter Smuts; Conversions: Eddie Fouche (4); Penalties: Fouche (2)
Lions: Try: Sibusiso Sangweni; Conversion: Fred Zeilinga; Penalty: Zeilinga