Pukke sink Madibaz
NWU-Pukke scored 26 unanswered points to secure a sensational 39-36 victory over the NMMU Madibaz in Potchefstroom on Monday.
The team from Port Elizabeth dominated proceedings early on, scoring four tries to establish a commanding 36-13 lead, but a brave fightback saw NWU-Pukke snatch victory in dramatic fashion to move above the Madibaz on the standings.
The visitors applied the early pressure and pinned NWU-Pukke in their own 22 until captain Roy Godfrey was able to force his way over from close range to give the Madibaz an early 8-0 lead.
NWU-Pukke responded by storming into NMMU territory, with prolific try-scorer Hoffman Maritz creating some anxious moments for the Madibaz defence before hooker JC Oberholzer barged his way over to reduce the deficit to 8-5 at the first strategy break.
NMMU took control of the game when a penalty from flyhalf Justin van Staden was followed up by a try from flank Stefan Willemse to extend their lead to 18-5.
The home side regrouped and hit back with a try from lock Danie Jordaan who was put in space by scrumhalf Tiaan Dorfling, but they suffered a major blow just before half-time when NMMU wing Gerhardus Smith ran in an opportunistic try.
After ripping the ball off the opposition Smith followed up a kick ahead from Van Staden and outstripped the defence to give his side a 26-13 advantage at the break.
The Madibaz were first to score in the second half when Van Staden bounced a long-range penalty over off the upright after a late tackle from NWU-Pukke tighthead prop Martin Dreyer, and had the bonus point wrapped up soon afterwards when hooker Martin Ferreira crossed the whitewash.
Some slick passing out wide from the visitors saw Ferreira cruise over, and the conversion from Van Staden gave NMMU a commanding 36-13 lead, stunning the home fans in Potchefstroom.
The home side needed a response, and they obliged when replacement Robey Labuschagne crashed over from a driving maul, with Dorfling's conversion reducing NMMU's lead to 36-21.
That seemed to spark NWU-Pukke into life and they secured their bonus point when No.8 SJ Niemand went over from another powerful driving maul, leaving the Madibaz with a 36-29 lead at the second strategy break.
The home side had all of the late momentum as they threw everything at the Madibaz in the dying stages, and Labuschagne's second try from a driving maul saw them take the lead for the first time with just five minutes left.
A late penalty from NWU-Pukke wing SW Oosthuizen was the final nail in NMMU's coffin, rounding off a sensational 39-36 comeback victory for the home side.
Tries: Oberholzer, Jordaan, Labuschagne 2, Niemand
Cons: Dorfling 4
Tries: Godfrey, Willemse, Smith, Ferreira
Cons: Van Staden 4
Pens: Van Staden 2
NWU-Pukke: 15 Hoffman Maritz, 14 SW Oosthuizen, 13 Sylvian Mahuza, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Justin Botha, 9 Tiaan Dorfling, 8 SJ Niemand, 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Molotsi Bouwer, 5 Victor Kruger (captain), 4 Danie Jordaan, 3 Martin Dreyer, 2 JC Oberholzer, 1 Arno Ebersohn.
Replacements: 16 Acker van der Merwe, 17 Mashudu Mafela, 18 Solly Sotsaka, 19 Robey Labuschagne, 20 Jaco Grobler, 21 Rowayne Beukman, 22 Wynand Olivier, 23 Herman Basson.
NMMU: 15 Jarred Buys, 14 Logan Basson, 13 Hermanus van Lill, 12 Xolani Mnisi, 11 Gerhardus Smith, 10 Justin Van Staden, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Albertus de Swardt, 5 Mzwanale Zito, 4 Louis Fourie, 3 Gareth Hartley, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Ferdinand Gerber, 19 Ulrich Pretorius, 20 Simphiwe Shabangu, 21 Devon Lailvaux, 22 Lesley-Dean Luiters, 23 Dexter Fahey.
Referee: Quinton Immelman