Blue Bulls on course for Currie Cup semis after Pumas win

Manie Libbok was key for the Blue Bulls in their win over the Pumas. Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images

The Blue Bulls temporarily moved to the top of the Currie Cup standings when they beat the Pumas 39-29 in the weekend's first fixture in Pretoria on Friday night.

The Bulls, who were 27-17 ahead at the break, scored six tries to the Pumas' four to secure their third win of the season and their second on the trot to give their semi-final hopes a massive boost following defeats against the Sharks and the Lions earlier in the campaign.

The Bulls now top the Currie Cup log with 17 points, but that could change on Saturday if the Lions beat Western Province in the biggest clash of the weekend.

The Pumas, however, suffered their third successive defeat of the campaign, following their win over Griquas in the opening match of the tournament. The Pumas have seven points from their four matches thus far and currently find themselves outside of the semi-final positions.

Pumas flyhalf Chris Smith scored the first points of the match with a penalty, but the home side scored the first try when captain Hanro Liebenberg crossed the whitewash.

Jade Stighling scored the first of his two tries in the first half in the 12th minute, before prop Dayan van der Westhuizen rounded off a great team move, which featured many offloads in the tackle, 10 minutes later.

The Pumas' maul has been their biggest weapon this season, and they scored two tries in the 26th and 32nd minutes respectively through flank Marnus Schoeman and hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg.

But the Bulls would have the last say in the first stanza when Stighling scored the Bulls' bonus-point try with his second and Manie Libbok kicked a late penalty to give the home side a 10-point lead at the break.

The Bulls also drew first blood in the second half when scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl to finished off another good passage of play. The Pumas, though, hit back soon afterwards when Neil Maritz went over for a try of his own.

The Bulls wasted a few opportunities late on in the game match in the Pumas' 22, but they eventually managed to pull away from the Mbombela side when Duncan Matthews' offload found Jano Venter to score.

Point scorers:

Blue Bulls - Tries: Hanro Liebenberg, Jade Stighling (2), Dayan van der Westhuizen, Ivan van Zyl, Jano Venter. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3). Penalty: Libbok.

Pumas - Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Neil Maritz, Morné Joubert. Conversions: Chris Smith (3). Penalty: Smith.