Promotion joy for Pumas
The Pumas will replace Griquas in the Currie Cup Premier Division next season after their 33-15 victory in Nelspruit on Friday.
Tries from Stefan Watermeyer and Rosco Specman came at either end of a pulsating clash between the two sides, as they fought for a place in the Currie Cup's top tier in 2014.
A game based around dominance at the scrum, Griquas were in control in the first half despite Watermeyer's score coming against the run of play.
The winger's finish came after fine work from Coenie van Wyk returning a poor Griquas clearance, freeing up the space for Watermeyer to go over in the left corner as JC Roos converted for a 7-3 lead.
Roos, the Pumas fly-half, was excellent with the boot all night as he landed six from eight attempts and continually won his side crucial field position throughout.
A numerical advantage for Griquas after Renaldo Bothma's yellow card only yielded three points for the visitors, the Pumas defence holding firm when it mattered.
The number ten's drop-goal meant that the Pumas carried a 16-12 lead into the interval, cancelling out four penalties from Griquas full-back Gouws Prinsloo.
Prinsloo's next three points were the only scored by the Griquas in the entire second half as they squandered a series of key chances, continually losing the ball in contact.
One such instance lead to a breakaway from the Pumas. When Jean Stemmet desperately killed a three-man overlap the only option was for him to be sin-binned, but referee Craig Joubert went further by awarding a penalty try to the Pumas to put them into a convincing 23-12 lead.
Prinsloo's penalty did cut the gap to eight points, but the Griquas woes in the tackle continued as possession was lost.
Their struggles were added to by a resilient Pumas scrum, which has been torn apart in the first half but rallied after the break and won a string of penalties that helped them clear their lines.
Many of the Griquas hopes rested on the influence of their Springbok winger Willie Le Roux. The international found space on a couple of occasions, but on the first he lost his footing when bursting down the touchline. The second ended in calamity.
A tapped penalty saw Le Roux surge forward, but loose ball at the back of the resulting ruck was pounced upon by the livewire Rosco Specman who raced away and rounded the last man to secure the Pumas promotion with the third try and a 33-15 lead.
It launched the crowd into rapturous scenes around the Mbombela Stadium, as the Griquas faced up to the prospect of playing in the First Division next season. For the Pumas, there was no other feeling but sheer joy.
Tries: Watermeyer, Penalty, Specman
Cons: Roos 3
Pens: Roos 3
Drop Goal: Roos
Yellow Card: Bothma
Pens: Prinsloo 4
Yellow Card: Stemmet
Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Specman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 RW Kember, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Rudi Matthee, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Drew van Coller/Stephan Kotze, 19 Eduan Van Der Walt, 20, Uzair Cassiem, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Jerome Pretorius.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Burger Schoeman, 5 Patrick O'Brien, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (capt), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Janro van Niekerk, 18 Nick Schonert, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 JP Nel, 22 Nico Scheepers.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Sieg van Staden, Cobus Wessels
Television match official: Johan Greeff