Replacement kicker JC Roos kept his cool late on by slotting a conversion at the death to help the Ford Pumas clinch a narrow 36-35 (halftime 13-20) victory over the brave Valke in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.
The hosts, who were outscored by five tries to four, looked destined for defeat against a battling visiting team, but No 8 RW Kember showed strong legs as he ran over with three minutes to play.
By that stage flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout had secured 19 points for the Pumas, but was off the field, and Roos held his nerve with a vital kick to secure the win, only the second of the season for the home team.
It moved them up to third place on the log, while the Valke remained in sixth.
The Pumas had two good opportunities to take the lead inside the opening five minutes via penalties, but they opted to set up an attacking line-out with the first, which came to nothing, while the second was dragged just wide of goal by Bezuidenhout.
From the subsequent restart, the Valke won a line-out, with the driving maul taking Uzair Cassiem over.
Bezuidenhout found his range with the next penalty from right in front to cut the gap to two, but again an attacking line-out was the platform for the visitors’ second try.
This time the ball was spread from left to right as John-Wessel Bell exchanged passes with his backline, before stretching across the whitewash in the corner after 14 minutes.
The visitors continued to attack, but were slightly sloppy at it as three turnover balls saw them spur further chances to extend their lead.
Instead, when the ball was cleared back into their own territory, Bezuidenhout slashed the gap to four with an off-side penalty.
The Valke continued to play with freedom and were rewarded with a third try after a flying Bell sped over on the right for his second try following a good angled run.
Karlo Aspeling, who scored 18 points in total, landed the first with his boot, and five minutes before halftime, the visiting flyhalf found himself in acres of space in front of the posts and popped over a drop goal.
But Renaldo Bothma drove over seconds before the interval to grab the home side’s first try, which was converted, and raise hopes with the gap down to seven.
After the restart, Bezuidenhout was again on the money with a penalty as the side’s emerged in changed strips.
The jersey change continued to aid the hosts with a fine Bothma break down the right, ending with Deon Scholtz crossing.
And after Aspeling sent over another three points that put the Valke back in front, Sino Ganto saw a clearance closed down by Bezuidenhout, who ran in the simplest of tries.
The lead continued to change hands as the clock wound down and Aspeling collected quick ball and eased past some tiring defenders to put his team back in front just before the hour mark, the try also giving the Valke their fourth-try bonus point.
Again the home team came back, with Bezuidenhout sending over a penalty, but Aspeling once again took advantage of sluggish defence with a direct run that took him over for a second try.
Johan de Bruin was crucially shown a yellow card as the match entered its final 10 minutes and that proved decisive.
With three minutes to go, Kember crashed over as the Pumas poured forward, with Roos slotting over the crucial conversion to seal the win.
Ford Pumas – Tries: Renaldo Bothma, Deon Scholtz, Carl Bezuidenhout, RW Kember. Conversions: Bezuidenhout, JC Roos. Penalties: Bezuidenhout (4).
Valke – Tries: Uzair Cassiem, John-Wessel Bell (2), Karlo Aspeling (2). Conversions: Aspeling, Arno Poley. Penalty: Aspeling. Drop-goal: Aspeling.