The Steval Pumas couldn’t convert multiple opportunities against Western Province at fortress Newlands on Saturday, falling to a 40-19 loss in a pre-season friendly.
The visitors were starved of possession during the first half and ended up conceding six tries to the enterprising Province by fulltime, despite having the home side under pressure for the majority of the match. A converted try by Valentino Wellman in the 6th minute opened the scoring for Western Province, and another seven-pointer in the 20th minute took the score to 14-0: Scott van Breda crossing the whitewash and Brandon Thomas converting. A strong counter-surge from the Steval Pumas saw Marnus Schoeman crashing over, with Kobus Marais slotting the conversion in the 33rd minute. Province were again in relative comfort with a 21-7 lead by half-time, through a second converted Van Breda try just before the whistle.
Seemingly re-energised, the Steval Pumas scored through Carel Greeff early in the second half. The conversion from Marais took the Nelspruiters to within seven points once again, but Western Province drove home their advantage with three tries (two converted) to secure an unassailable 40-14 lead with under five minutes to go. Justin Phillips, Alistair Vermaak and Tristan Leyds all added their names to the try-scorers’ list. Greeff bagged his second try for the Steval Pumas thereafter, but the 40-19 defeat left coach Brent Janse van Rensburg lamenting numerous missed opportunities.
“I don’t think that the score line was a true reflection of the game. We had them under pressure for a lot of the match and didn’t manage to capitalise on scoring opportunities. We had some soft moments defensively and I think that the real difference was Province managing to grab their scoring opportunities, so full credit to them,” said Janse van Rensburg.
Janse van Rensburg said that he was happy with the continuous improvements shown by the Steval Pumas in the build-up to the SuperSport Challenge.
“In general there was a lot of improvement in our tactical awareness and style of play. Had one or two things gone our way it would have been very different. The purpose of the warm-up games is to prepare for the SuperSport Challenge, and we feel like things are on the right track,” he said.
Western Province: Tries: Valentino Wellman, Scott van Breda (2), Justin Phillips, Alistair Vermaak, Tristan Leyds
Conversions: Brandon Thomas (4), Marcello Sampson
Pumas: Tries: Carel Greeff (2), Marnus Schoeman
Conversions: Kobus Marais (2)