The Pumas shocked the Cheetahs in their Currie Cup semi-final in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon to qualify for the final next weekend, where they will face Griquas in an expected last game of the competition in Kimberley.
In a sensational 38-35 upset, the Pumas scored three tries in the last 17 minutes to stun their hosts, who dominated for much of the game and looked to be on their way to the final midway through the second half.
Griquas qualified for the final by beating the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. They will contest their first final in 52 years, having last won South Africa’s most prestigious trophy in 1970.
In a game full of attacking intent and some quality handling and off-loading, the Pumas were first to score, through Eddie Fouche, who darted over from close range after his forwards had come up short with their maul.
The Cheetahs though made it 7-7 when the excellent Jeandre Rudolph went over for a converted try in the 16th minute. The Pumas though surged into a commanding position midway through the first half when centre Sebastian de Klerk scored twice to put his side 17-7 up.
At the same time the Cheetahs lost their captain Ruan Pienaar to injury and things didn’t look good for the home team.
In the last 10 minutes of the first half though Hawies Fourie’s side found their rhythm and they struck a few telling blows. They were first awarded a penalty try, the Pumas lost Daniel Maartens to the sin-bin and then Siya Masuku kicked a penalty and his teammate Clayton Blommetjies scored a converted try to put the Cheetahs 24-17 up at the break.
And within 10 minutes of the resumption of play that became 32-17 after a second try by Rudolph and penalty by Masuku.
The Pumas stayed in the contest when replacement back Giovan Snyman went over in the 63rd minute and Fouche converted, but the Cheetahs edged ahead again when Masuku knocked over a penalty with 10 minute to go.
However, a yellow card to Rosko Specman and two late Pumas tries by replacements Simon Raw and Ali Mgijima, both converted by Eddie de Beer, gave the visitors a famous win. They will now travel to Kimberley for the final next weekend.
Cheetahs: Tries: Rudolph (2), Penalty Try, Blommetjies; Conversions: Pienaar, Masuku; Penalties: Masuku (2)
Pumas: Tries: Fouche, De Klerk (2), Snyman, Raw, Mgijima; Conversions: Fouche (2), De Beer (2)