The Pumas defeated defending Currie Cup champions, the Sharks, 32-22 (half-time 18-9) at Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.
The hosts used their majority possession to score a four-try bonus point victory to move to the second place on the Currie Cup log.
Playing an exciting brand of rugby, the Lowveld-based side demonstrated how to win with an expansive mindset.
The Sharks initially did well to soak up the pressure from a probing Pumas attack by exiting well from their own half using flyhalf Fred Zeilinga’s clearance kicking to great effect.
The visitors were unlucky not to score an early try when veteran flank Jacques Botes – playing in his 150th Currie Cup match – planted the ball millimetres from the line.
But the Sharks did take an early thanks to a Zeilinga penalty in the sixth minute.
The Pumas only got onto the scoreboard in the 21st minute when flyhalf Justin van Staden slotted a penalty conversion. Two minutes later the Pumas grabbed the lead as they attacked from depth to score the first try of the night.
Winning a scrum penalty, Pumas No 8 Renaldo Bothma took a quick tap and sent the ball wide to danger-man Rosco Speckman.
The Pumas wing flew down the left-hand touchline before the ball again went infield.
From a ruck metres from the line the ball went to Bothma, who burst over the line for the try, with Van Staden converting.
Van Staden extended the home side’s lead to 10 points with a penalty goal on the half-hour mark, before Zeilinga responded with one of his own two minutes later.
Shortly before the half-time break, the Pumas scored a fantastic try again running from depth.
Standout centre Stefan Watermeyer broke the line before he off-loaded to Speckman on his outside, who in turn passed to a flying Van Staden on the wing for the try (18-9).
The Sharks turned in a markedly improved performance in the second half as they erased a nine-point deficit to grab the lead once again in the 56th minute.
The visitors started their fightback with a Zeilinga penalty in the 42nd minute.
The Pumas came close to scoring their third try of the night when Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane deliberately knocked the ball down on a Pumas attack inside his own 22.
The indiscretion earned Ndungane 10 minutes in the sin-bin, while the Pumas opted for a lineout instead of the three points which proved fruitless.
The scales seemed to tip in the Sharks’ favour and in the 55th minute they confirmed this with a five pointer.
The visitors won a tighthead scrum just outside the Pumas 22, with scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann sending a long floating pass wide to Sibusiso Sithole, who off-loaded to SP Marais for the try in the corner.
Zeilinga converted the try for a 19-18 lead before he extended it with another three-pointer in the 61st minute.
However, the Pumas’ resolve remained strong as they forced their way back into the game.
Ten minutes from time Watermeyer was rewarded for his performance as he finished a Pumas attack, with replacement flyhalf JC Roos converting.
With their tails up, the Pumas added the four-try bonus point with seven minutes on the clock with imposing lock Giant Mtyanda diving over on the left-hand corner.
Roos added the conversion to give his side a well-deserved 32-22 victory.
- Tries: Renaldo Bothma (1), Justin van Staden (1), Stefan Watermeyer (1), Giant Mtyanda (1)
- Conversions: Justin van Staden (1), JC Roos (2)
- Penalties: Justin van Staden (2)
Cell C Sharks:
- Try: SP Marais (1)
- Conversion: Fred Zeilinga (1)
- Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (5)