Golden Lions made sure of their place in the Currie Cup semi-finals following a 33-21 bonus-point triumph over the Pumas in Nelspruit.
In an entertaining opening period, the away team took a 21-14 lead into the interval after tries from Lionel Mapoe, Corne Fourie and Courtnall Skosan.
Jimmy Stonehouse’s side kept themselves in contention via Devon Williams and Francois Kleinhans before Skosan and Fourie both touched down for the second time to confirm their play-off place.
The Johannesburg outfit’s defeat in their previous game opened the door for the hosts going into this encounter, but Ivan van Rooyen’s men duly slammed it shut.
They scored first after Mapoe latched onto Stefan Ungerer’s errant pass and touched down unopposed for a 7-0 advantage.
It was a bright start from the visitors but they were stunned moments later when the Pumas levelled matters as Morne Joubert broke the gainline and off-loaded to Williams, who did the rest.
Van Rooyen’s charges remained in control, however, and deservedly regained their lead when hooker Fourie went over from close range before James Venter had a try disallowed for a double-movement.
The Lions initially struggled to benefit from their territorial dominance and they were made to pay as a Howard Mnisi yellow card was followed by Kleinhans’ score.
Down to 14 men, the away side could have folded but they simply upped the intensity and were once again ahead by the interval through Skosan, who was on hand to support Mapoe’s superb break.
Conditions worsened in the second period, with lightning delaying the resumption by 10 minutes, but it did not alter the course of the contest. Mistakes were more prevalent but the visitors still created chances and one such opportunity was well taken by Skosan.
It gave them the bonus-point and effectively secured their passage into the last four, but they were not done there. The Lions left wing was causing all sorts of problems and another surge got them on the front foot.
Although that move eventually broke down, Van Rooyen’s men continued to pressurise the opposition and Fourie rewarded their excellence by crossing the whitewash for the second time.
That ended the game as a contest and confirmed their place in the semi-finals, despite Ryan Nell’s consolation score.
Tries: Williams, Kleinhans, Nell
Cons: Smith, Marais 2
Yellow Card: Kleinhans
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Mapoe, Fourie 2, Skosan 2
Cons: Jantjies 4
Yellow Card: Mnisi
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell (c), 11 Ruwellyn Isbel, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Francois Kleinhans, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Morgan Naudé
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Stefan Willemse, 19 Jeandré Rudolph, 20 Abri Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henco Marais
Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Wandisile Simelane, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom (c), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 James Venter, 6 Hanko de Villiers, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Corne Fourie, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Chergine Fillies, 19 Driaan Bester, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Shaun Reynolds
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Johre Botha
TMO: Marius Jonker