Gouws Prinsloo kicked a penalty in the final minute to hand the GWK Griquas a narrow 15-14 (halftime 9-3) victory over the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday night to seal a place in the 2014 Vodacom Cup final.
The Pumas had fought back from a dismal first half performance to dominate the second stanza.
JC Roos missed the conversion of the only try of the match, scored by their captain Corne Steenkamp with 13 minutes remaining, to leave the hosts just one point adrift of the visitors.
But Roos made up for the error by slotting his third penalty just four minutes later to hand the hosts a slender
two-point lead, after Francois Brummer had been caught offside.
Yet, with time running out, Griquas were handed a penalty as the Pumas were pinned for collapsing a maul from a lineout. Prinsloo lined up the attempt on the 15m line and calmly sent the ball through the posts.
Griquas dominated the first half in possession and territory and were on the scoreboard within 24 seconds of the first whistle thanks to Brummer.
The Griquas flyhalf slotted a drop goal, which bounced over off the crossbar, after the visitors had stolen the ball from the Pumas from the kick-off.
The home side was handed an opportunity to level matters after the referee penalised Griquas for being offside at the ruck and then moved the penalty 10m forward after some backchat from the visitors. Roos obliged with the easier attempt to level the scores at 3-all.
The home side struggled throughout the first half with their lineouts with Griquas stealing a few balls which put the hosts under pressure.
Despite the Pumas dominating the scrums, Burger Schoeman conducted proceedings at the back of the Griquas scrum with aplomb.
Prinsloo and Roos both missed penalty attempts to give their respective teams the lead, although Roos’s attempt was from a massive 64m away.
It was not until the half-hour mark that Prinsloo was able to break the deadlock with a successful penalty attempt after the hosts were penalised for not rolling away with the Griquas on the attack.
Prinsloo then missed his second attempt at goal, pushing a shot from 45m out to the left of the uprights after the Pumas' hooker, Jacques Momberg, was pinned for playing the ball on the ground.
However, the Griquas fullback made amends just three minutes later to make the score 9-3 after Giant Mtyanda was penalised for not supporting his weight at the ruck.
Brummer, who looked so assured and marshalled his backline so well in the first half, looked a shadow of himself in the second half.
The flyhalf struggled with his distribution and dropped the ball numerous times to put his side under pressure and halt any momentum they were trying to gain.
Roos narrowed the margin to three points with a penalty just two minutes after the restart when the Griquas were caught offside. But five minutes later, Roos missed another huge attempt from 61m out with the ball sailing left of the uprights.
With 20 minutes remaining, Prinsloo slotted his third penalty to give the Griquas a six-point lead once again after the home side were penalised for infringing at the lineout.
But the crowd started to get behind their team when Roos kicked a penalty into touch 8m from the Griquas tryline. The Pumas mauled the ball up and Steenkamp broke away to dot down in the corner to send the crowd into raptures.
Roos was unable to convert the try from the touchline, with the ball sliding past the left-hand upright.
Griquas will be watching the second semifinal between the Bulls and the Golden Lions with anticipation to see who they will face in the May 17 final.
Steval Pumas – Try: Corne Steenkamp; Penalties: JC Roos (3).
GWK Griquas –Penalties: Gouws Prinsloo (4); Drop goal: Francois Brummer.