Things were far from moonshine and roses for the Pukke in the city of roses, Bloemfontein, on Monday as they lost to a well-rounded Shimlas side.
From the start, Shimlas were the better team. They looked good with ball in hand and did not struggle to maintain possession. They almost made their good play work for them in the first ten minutes when Vuyani Maqina missed out on scoring a try, dropping the ball centimetres in front of the line and Marco Mason missed a penalty kick .
If these points had been scored, Shimlas would’ve put the final nail in Pukke’s coffin much earlier. The Pukke struck back with what can be described as the best piece of play they had through the whole game, when quick hands in the backline allowed winger, and one of Pukke’s shining stars this season, Jimmy Mpailane, to sprint past defenders against the touchline to score a magnificent seven point try, which Schalk Hugo converted.
Shimlas did not hesitate for a moment to launch their counterattack and soon after, lock Nicolaas Immelman, dived over the whitewash for a try through a rolling maul. The whole game Pukke could not stop Shimlas’ rolling mauls and the Shimlas scrum demolished Pukke time and time again. At this moment Pukke were still ahead 9–5.
Shimlas kept up their attack but the Pukke defence stood courageously. Until the referee turned the game into a yellow card frenzy, sending two Pukke players to the sin–bin in a short space of time and awarding the Shimlas a penalty try. Shimlas would’ve felt that they could’ve been further ahead at halftime, with the score at 12–9.
In the second half, the Shimlas were even more dominant with scrumhalf Dian Badenhorst diving over for a try through a classic scrumhalf snipe. Then flanker, Daniel Maartens, ran like an outside back and left the Pukke defence behind, scoring a brilliant bonuspoint try.
The Pukke tried to fight back through replacement flyhalf Julian Delicado who tried to commandeer the backline and Tapiwa Mafura and Jimmy Mpailane, attempting to crack open the defence. The Pukke closed the gap through flanker Wandile Mazibuko and the Shimlas were also awarded two yellow cards, making it four in the game. The score was 28–16 in favour of the Shimlas at the strategy break.
The game seemed over when Shimlas scored in the 68th minute through Bernardus Erasmus and stunning the Pukke. There was consolation though, as Pukke prop–forward Morne Strydom scored in the 82nd minute.
Final score 35 – 23.
FNB Player that Rocks: Daniel Maartens
FNB NWU-Pukke: 23 Tries: Jimmy Mpailane (seven-point), Wandile Mazibuko (five-point), Morné Strydom Cons: Schalk Hugo (1), Julian Delicado (2) Yellow card: Louis van der Westhuizen, Chriswill September,
FNB Shimlas: 35 Tries: Nicolaas Immelman (five-point), Dian Badenhorst (five-point), Daniel Maartens (seven-point), Bernardus Erasmus (five-point) Cons: Marco Mason (3) Yellow card: Phumzile Maqondwana, Nicolaas Immelman
Written by: Van Zyle Cronje