The Steval Pumas held off a strong challenge from the Leopards to secure a 32-27 (half-time 23-17) win in their top-of-the-table Absa Currie Cup First Division match at Profert Olen Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.
Flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout, who came into the game with a tournament-leading 54 points, once again proved to be the Pumas’ trump card as the pivot ended with 21 points courtesy of six penalties and two conversions as he turned in a flawless kicking performance.
The Leopards ran in three tries to two but it was not enough to prevent them slipping to their first loss of the season while the Pumas maintained their unbeaten record as they completed their fourth win in as many matches.
The victory also saw the Pumas leapfrog the Leopards on the points table to move into first place with the Leopards slipping back into second place.
The Pumas took a 6-3 lead after 10 minutes thanks to two penalties from Bezuidenhout while Leopards flyhalf Adriaan Engelbrecht kicked a three-pointer for the hosts.
The home team grabbed their first try, in the 13th minute, when left wing Edmar Marais went over for his sixth try of the season with Engelbrecht adding the conversion.
However, the visitors struck back five minutes later when their left wing Rosko Speckman dotted down for a converted try before Bezuidenhout kicked his third penalty as the match entered the second quarter.
But the Leopards regained the lead once again with 14 minutes left in the half when scrumhalf Johann Laker sniped over for a converted score before the Pumas struck back shortly before half time when fullback Coenie van Wyk rounded off a length of the field try.
Engelbrecht kicked a penalty one minute into the second half to narrow the gap to three points but the Pumas made sure off the victory with three penalties from the reliable Bezuidenhout.
The Leopards gave themselves a chance to grab a win when right wing Danie Dames went over for a converted try in the 70th minute but the hosts were unable to breach the Pumas’ defence again.
LEOPARDS – Tries: Edmar Marais, Johann Laker, Danie Dames; Conversions: Adriaan Engelbrecht (3); Penalties: Engelbrecht (2).
STEVAL PUMAS – Tries: Rosko Speckman, Coenie van Wyk; Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (2); Penalties: Bezuidenhout (6).