Pumas take a nail-biter in the last minute

By Lucky Maree

Nobody will say that either the Pumas or the Lions are great defensive sides. They’re not. Both teams are at their best when on the attack. 

In last week’s match, the Lions never stopped going for the tries even though they were losing. Likewise, the Pumas never stopped going for tries – and they ended up scoring nine running tries against a very sleepy Blue Bulls team. 

All in all, the table is set for fast, mobile, rugby, with the Pumas slight favourites, if only for being on their home ground in Nelspruit. 

After 15 minutes the Lions scored a penalty but nobody crossed the advantage line. Who said these are not good defensive teams? But the Pumas somehow seem to be getting stronger and stronger with every move.

It takes until 21 minutes for the first try – and it is the Pumas at their venomous best. From first face play the ball shifts through the hands and Diego Appollis crosses the line with the Lions backline literally standing perfectly still.

Minutes later, one teeny-weensy bad pass from the Lions and Appollis snatches up the loose ball, hands it to fullback Devon Williams who runs around, and scores near the poles.

Minutes before halftime, trailing by two converted tries, the body language of the Lions is anything but positive. They look ready to lose. The talk in their changeroom is going to have to be magic to get them to lift their heads.

The Lions come out fighting, attacking the Pumas line with the forwards. After five minutes they score a dominant forward try. The try is not allowed, but if the Lions are to beat the Pumas this is the way to do it.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Lions forwards are doing good work, but there is little support from the backs. Trench warfare is not the Pumas’ natural game. It takes the Lions 12 minutes to eventually get the Lions’ first try through wing Boldwin Hansen. 

The Pumas forwards score almost immediately through flank André Fouche. The Pumas are still two tries and 12 points ahead. The Lions seem to be physically stronger but they are not allowed to finish.

Finally the Lions make it look easy with a rolling maul with a try awarded to Jarod Cairns. With 20 minutes to go the Lions trail by seven points. The game is a long way from over.

The Pumas, defiantly, immediately take on the Lions at their own game, and score a scrum try through prop Corné Fourie. With then minutes to go, the Pumas are looking good, but Vaughen Isaacs scores a great flyhalf try. The Lions are now five points behind and hungry for the win.

Boldwin Hansen takes a clear intercept and trots in for an exceptional individual try – but Isaacs misses the conversion. The scores are tied with three minutes to go.

The Pumas do what they do best and Diego Appollis scores after a perfect sidestep.

Jimmy Stonehouse’s Pumas deserve the win but the Lions can hold their heads high. 

Pumas (5 tries) 34-27 (4 tries) Lions. 

Pictured above: Pumas celebrating their win over the Lions

Image source: Currie Cup

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