Pukke were their own worst enemies in a 44-14 victory over CUT at the Cape Town Stadium on Monday. Two yellow cards in the space of 14 minutes gave CUT a golden opportunity to stage a comeback after finding themselves trailing 14-0 after 27 minutes. But they ultimately failed to capitalise, and Pukke were let off the hook. The opening first 20 minutes was dominated by a creative Pukke attack and a resolute CUT defence.
Pukke’s dangerous backline threatened to score whenever they had the ball, but their struggles at lineout time meant they had lost a valuable attacking weapon. In this time, Pukke lost three of their own throws, limiting their attack, while CUT tackled valiantly to keep the score at deadlock by the first strategy break. Despite their misfiring lineout, Pukke turned down an easy shot at goal in the 21st minute to kick for touch and give them a lineout five meters out from CUT’s tryline.
Their faith was rewarded when the captain, Jeandre Rudolph, found a gap to canter over under the crossbar for an easy conversion. Now with their lineout back in working order and some confidence, Pukke would score a seven-point try five minutes later thanks to a superb offload. Fullback, Rhyno Smith, would make a rare miss to keep the scores at 14-0.
Moments later, Rudolph would go from hero to villain as he was yellow carded in the 32nd minute. CUT, not for the first time, wouldn’t make the most of their advantage, and headed into the tunnel with the scores unchanged. Once restored to a full contingent, Pukke would resume their fine form, scoring a converted nine-point try in the 43rd minute.
But, once again, Pukke lost a man to the Afkoelstoel as Walt Steenkamp was shown a slice of cheese by the referee. This time, CUT managed to put some points on the board through a converted try, but any hopes of a comeback were put to rest when Pukke hit back immediately through a converted try of their own. As a result, when Steenkamp returned to the field, Pukke were still 25 points ahead at 32-7 after 53 minutes.
CUT did manage to score another converted try in the 61st minute to reduce the deficit to 18-points, but their window had closed. One last seven-point try and a penalty by Pukke only rubbed salt into the wound. The result sets up two mouth-watering clashes next week Monday as Pukke take on Shimlas in a battle for second place and the rights to host a semi-final, while CUT will take on FNB Madibaz in an attempt to avoid relegation.
Photo credit: Thys Lombard