The home side had too much experience and played the big moments far better than their visitors at the Mbombela Stadium and proved their class especially in the second half.
The Phakisa Pumas held a slender 11-0 lead at the break, following two penalty goals and an unconverted try, but showed their attacking prowess in the second half, scoring five well-taken tries in the process.
Luther Obi (winger), who saw very little action in the first half, took full advantage of some front foot ball in space and scored a brace in the last 20 minutes, the second from 70 meters out, while Marko Janse van Rensburg (hooker) got a brace from strong rolling mauls.
The first half was a tight affair with the home side intent on taking every point offered and keeping play in the visitors half. Phakisa Pumas flyhalf Chris Smith kicked two early penalty goals to push his side into a 6-0 lead.
The Lowvelders had a try disallowed after a TMO intervention, but a strong rolling maul had them over the Down Touch Griffons’ tryline for their first try after 30 minutes of play. The Welkom side had nothing to show for their efforts, bar a missed penalty attempt by flyhalf Robbie Petzer.
The visitors conceded an early penalty in the second, which Smith sent through the uprights, but they started to find their feet, coming into the game more.
The Down Touch Griffons were denied a potential try by Allister Mumba (winger) after an earlier knock-on was spotted by the TMO and when the home side got a second five-pointer through their rolling maul, their lead stretched to 21-0 and it was clear that Mbombela Stadium would host matches in the Premier Division again next year.
When Obi and Ashlon Davids (scrumhalf) scored in quick succession, the match was over as a contest. Credit to the Down Touch Griffons, who got a try after 70 minutes, but two more tries, including Obi's second, pushed the winning margin wider again.
Phakisa Pumas captain, Jeandre Rudolph, was pleased with the result and said: “We were pretty desperate. We knew what relegation would mean, so had a lot of pressure on us. Luckily we kept our cool and played to our strengths and that brought the result. The Griffons had a great season and are formidable opponents, so we are really pleased about this result.”
Phakisa Pumas 49 (11) – Tries: Marko Janse van Rensburg (2), Luther Obi (2), Ashlon Davids, Alwayno Visagie. Conversions: Chris Smith (3), Williams, Kobus Marais. Penalty goals: Smith (3).
Down Touch Griffons 5 (0) – Try: Danrich Visagie.