Carl Bezuidenhout kicked 24 points to lead the Steval Pumas into their first Vodacom Cup final in their history.
The flyhalf turned in a faultless kicking performance as he succeeded with five penalties, three conversions and a drop goal on route to his side’s 39-13 win over the EP Kings at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.
The home team were full value for their win as they ran in three tries to one. They had the better of the opening exchanges with their powerful defence snuffing out most of the Kings’ attacking ambitions. The hosts, who lost just one pool match on their way to their semifinal place, took a ninth minute lead when Bezuidenhout popped over a close-range drop goal.
The Pumas were proving to be the dominant team and three penalties from Bezuidenhout saw them stretch their lead to 12-0 after 27 minutes. The home team nabbed their first try five minutes later when left wing Rosco Speckman sprinted clear for a converted try.
The Kings, trailing by 19 points, were staring down the barrel but they managed to salvage something from a first-half when flank Mpho Mbiyozo was mauled over for a converted try with just two minutes left in the half.
Bezuidenhout and his opposite number Wesley Dunlop traded penalties after the restart to leave the score 22-10 in the Pumas’ favour after 55 minutes but Dunlop cut the deficit to just nine points with a 61st minute penalty.
However, just two minutes later, the Pumas squashed any hopes the Kings’ may have had of mounting a serious fightback when fullback Coenie van Wyk sniped over in the left-hand corner for a converted try.
Bezuidenhout then slotted his fifth penalty of the game before right wing JW Bell scored the try of the match when he set off on a jinking 25-metre run which resulted in a converted score.
- Steval Pumas – Tries: Rosco Speckman, Coenie van Wyk, JW Bell; Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (3); Penalties: Bezuidenhout (5); Drop goal: Bezuidenhout.
- EP Kings – Try: Mpho Mbiyozo; Conversion: Wesley Dunlop; Penalties: Dunlop (2).
Four time winners MTN Golden Lions will play the Steval Pumas in the final of the Vodacom Cup in Nelspruit on May 18 after the Gauteng side knocked out defending champions DHL Western Province and the Mpumalanga side send the EP Kings packing in their respective semi-finals this weekend.
The Pumas secured their first ever final by winning 39-13 in Nelspruit, while five time finalists, the Golden Lions, proved too strong for WP in the second half and raced to a 44-25 win.