The Pumas scored five tries to win the first match of Currie Cup 2018. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

NELSPRUIT – The Pumas started their Currie Cup campaign on a high note by thrashing Griquas 42-19 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.

The home side started like a house on fire, showing great intent with ball in hand. Scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer got his backline going at every opportunity.

The visitors, however, did not allow the Pumas too much scoring opportunities in the first half. Jimmy Stonehouse’s team had all the possession in the first 25 minutes, but only had two successful Chris Smith penalties to show for their hard work. The Pumas eventually got just reward for their positive play when Hennie Skorbinski powered over for the first try of the Currie Cup competition. Ungerer started the move with a clever tap-kick and the forwards did the rest. Flyhalf Smith put the conversion over and the Pumas took a commanding 13-0 lead.

Griquas replaced hooker Khwezi Mkhafu who was struggling to find his jumpers in the lineout. The more experienced AJ Le Roux also brought more power upfront for the visiting side.

Chris Smith scored a try and four conversions. Photo:

Chris Smith scored a try and four conversions. Photo:

Griquas eventually got their tales up when AJ Coertzen found a gap in the Pumas’ defence to score a try. George Whitehead succeeded with the conversion to bring the halftime score to 13-7.

Ungerer got the scoreboard ticking early in the second half when he dotted down against the post. Referee Rasta Rasivhenge double-checked with the TMO and the try was awarded. Smith stepped up to add the extra two points. The flyhalf continued with his excellent kicking display by slotting another penalty.

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Smith then charged down a Whitehead kick to score under the poles and also slotted the conversion between the post. With confidence booming left wing Neil Maritz and lock Marnus Schoeman also got fiver-pointers. Smith could only succeed with the first conversion for a total of 22 points in the match.

Griquas had Liam Hendricks sin-binned, but managed to narrow the score with tries by scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer and eighthman Conway Pretorius.

The Nelspruit side will now have a bye next week before Curie Cup champions Western Province visit the Mbombela Stadium on the 31st August.

The results were:

Scorers: Pumas 42 (13) 

Tries: Hennie Skorbinski, Stefan Ungerer, Chis Smith, Neil Maritz, Marnus Schoeman. 

Conversions: Chris Smith (4), Penalties: Smith (3)

Griquas 19 (7): 

Tries: AJ Coertzen, Christiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius. 

Conversions: George Whitehead (2) 

African News Agency (ANA)

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