The Lions ended their 2010 Currie Cup with a demoralising defeat to the Pumas, who claimed their first major scalp away from home this year thanks to a well-earned 34-27 win at Coca-Cola Park on Friday.
After the teams had retreated to the half-time sheds at 17-all, the Pumas returned to the 'Lions Den' to tame the opposition with two spectacular second-half tries towards the end of a thrilling match to crown their victory effort.
The five-try victory was worth five points to the Pumas while the Lions, with four tries, picked up two.
Straight from the kick-off, the visiting Pumas wasted no time in taking the game to the Lions, who seemed somewhat perplexed with their opponents' spirited display.
The Pumas' show of enterprise in the opening ten minutes may have been worth as many points but instead they came away with five, courtesy of a CornÃ© Steenkamp try (5-0).
During this passage of play, Pumas fly-half Elgar Watts missed a penalty and a conversion.
The Lions needed some 15 minutes to see off the Pumas opening burst and scrum-half Jano Vermaak led the charge before centre Waylon Murray supplied a scoring pass for flanker Derick Minnie to dot down for an unconverted try (5-5).
In the 21st minute the Lions snatched the lead with an unconverted try through wing Jannie Boshoff but their slender 10-5 lead disappeared four minutes later when the Pumas scored twice in quick succession through centre Shaun Venter and Steenkamp, one of which was converted by Watts (17-10).
Four minutes ahead of the break, Steenkamp was yellow carded for repeated infringements and the Lions' exploited the position two minutes later with a try by Murray. This time Jantjies was on target with the conversion attempt to round off the first-half scoring at 17-all.
The Pumas returned in the second half looking to regain the initiative but the Lions absorbed the pressure before they created a turnover which led to a converted try by their number eight Warren Whitely to open up a seven-point lead (24-17). In the process the Lions picked up a bonus point.
Just as the match approached the hour mark, both sides managed to tighten up their defences and excellent scoring attempts were stifled at either end of the field. Instead the scoreboard was kept ticking over with a penalty each by Jantjies and Watts (27-20).
But just when it looked like the Lions were finally starting to impose themselves on the match the Pumas turned the match on its head in the final 11 minutes of play with tries by scrum-half Hendrik van der Nest and full-back Johan Jackson.
Watts converted splendidly on both occasions from the touchline for a 34-27 match-winning lead.
Tries: Minnie, Van Rensburg, Murray, Whiteley
Cons: Jantjies 2
Tries: Steenkamp 2, Venter, Van der Nest, Jackson
Cons: Watts 3
Yellow card: CornÃ© Steenkamp (Pumas, 37th minute)
Lions: 15 Burton Francis, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Deon Van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco Van der Merwe (c), 4 Trevor Hall, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Wayne Swart, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 JP Joubert, 20 Wandile Mjekevu, 21 Renaldo Bothma, 22 Pieter Engelbrecht.
Pumas: 15 Johan Jackson, 14 Wynand Willis, 13 Shaun Venter, 12 Tian Meyer, 11 Allister Kettledas, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Hendrik van der Nest, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Eduan van der Walt, 6 CornÃ© Steenkamp, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Luan Velthuizen, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Hannes Franklin (captain), 1 Ronnie Uys.
Replacements: 16 Hans van Dyk, 17 Dawie Steyn, 18 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 19 Willem Serfontein, 20 Jaco Bouwer, 21 Ricardo Croy, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe