Johannesburg - With the Pumas having kept their home record in tact in the Currie Cup, coach Jimmy Stonehouse will be targeting away victories following their 32-22 victory over defending champions the Sharks in Mbombela on Friday evening.
“The sign of a good team is whether they can win away from home and although it was easier in the First Division we won all our away matches which is difficult in the Currie Cup Premier Division,” Stonehouse said.
“Our first aim is to get the bonus point when we are playing away. Obviously you go for the victory - but you hope things stick and come away with a win.”
Victories over the Free State Cheetahs and Griquas maintained the Mbombela-based outfit's perfect record in their backyard.
Against the Sharks, the Pumas again demonstrated a willingness to attack from depth which paid dividends as they scored four tries for the full complement of points.
At the interval the home side enjoyed an 18-9 lead but an improved performance saw the Sharks claw their way back into the match.
The Pumas also allowed the visitors back into the game when they opted for attacking lineouts twice in a row instead of taking the three points on offer when the Sharks had Odwa Ndungane in the bin.
“We’ve let them into the match when we could have taken three points and Corne Steenkamp (captain) kicked for the lineout.
“We back him on that decision because the confidence was high at that stage but then we lost that lineout.”
He commended his troops for the way they have been chasing the bonus points, something they also did in their 34-17 loss to the Sharks two weeks ago in Durban.
“We were concerned about letting the game slip but at this stage our ability to fight for the bonus point is very high.”
Although there were suggestions that the Sharks played with a B team, with many of their Springboks out for the Currie Cup, Steenkamp said he would take the five points any day.
“They have shown they can compete and I see already people writing that it was their B team but they still had six Springboks and international players including 13 Super Rugby players.”
The Pumas centre combination of Stefan Watermeyer and JW Jonker were in rampant form as they kept the Sharks defence guessing with probing attacking runs.
Since returning from a brief stint at Welsh club side Ospreys and Griquas in 2012, Watermeyer found a new lease on his career at the Pumas the following year which earned him a call-up to the Lions franchise for this year’s Super Rugby season.
Stonehouse commended the midfield combination and Watermeyer in particular for adding a different dimension to the Pumas backline.
“Stefan’s turnaround has been unbelievable, the same for JW Jonker, they combine well and what they bring to the side is unbelievable.”