Cape Town — The Pumas will rely heavily on their pack of forwards to gain dominance in Saturday's Currie Cup semi-final (kick-off 5.30pm) against the Sharks.
But coach Jimmy Stonehouse will also have a few tricks up his sleeve in the backline to catch the Durban side unawares.
IOL Sport’s Leighton Koopman looks at four players that could be key to a Pumas victory at King's Park.
Tinus de Beer
The flyhalf has been in excellent form for his team and has been hitting his straps on attack and with his kicking boot. He will have to be in top kicking shape if he wants to have any influence on the semi-final. His tactical kicking is one of his assets and will not only be vital to relieve pressure, but to also get the Pumas’ attack going.
The Pumas possess an abundance of exciting outside backs who will be hungry to get running with the ball under their arm. If De Beer can set his backline alight, whether it’s through his distribution or kicking boot, the Sharks will be in for a long day.
If the flying fullback can handle the pressure moments, and the Sharks will put plenty of pressure on him, the Pumas will thrive from the back. He has been a stalwart for the champions in their campaign and has scored some brilliant tries. Two of his assets that will be vital for his team, is his left boot with which he has picked up a couple of brilliant 50-22 punts. And then there is his ability to create something from nothing when running from fullback. But it’s a semi-final, so Williams will have to strike a balance between his kicking and attacking to put his team in the best position to win.
The young flank will have a big job of keeping the more experienced flanks of the Sharks quiet, and it should be a big challenge for him.
He has had a telling season with the Pumas and has been keeping more experienced players out of the team.
Fouché’s contribution at the breakdown will be invaluable, whether he is protecting his own possession, or trying to turnover or slow down the possession of the Sharks. He will most likely play against two well-known breakdown specialists in James Venter and Dylan Richardson.
His contribution to the attack, with his ball-carrying to get over the advantage line, can also be instrumental to the visitors.
The Pumas captain will have to lead from the front if he is to get his team over the line in Durban.
He has been a worthy replacement for Willie Engelbrecht who captained the Mbombela side to the title last season before moving to the Stormers. Kirkwood has been at the forefront of his team’s games and will be eager to help turn around a four-match losing streak as they head into the semis.
But it’s not just his leadership that will be vital, his ranking in the line-outs to secure valuable line-out balls for possible rolling mauls will be crucial. And he will also have to contest the line-out of the Sharks when his team is defending.