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Steve Haag/INPHO Connacht's Chay Mullins scores for Ireland.
# close affair
Emerging Ireland survive late scare to seal second win in South Africa
Simon Easterby’s side racked up a big early lead but were drawn into a battle in Bloemfontein.

Pumas 24

Emerging Ireland 28

Morgan Piek reports from South Africa

EMERGING IRELAND HELD on for a 28-24 win over the Pumas in Bloemfontein to remain unbeaten on their tour of South Africa.

The visitors led the game in the City of Roses 21-12 at the half-time break and were looking good to put another 50-plus points on the board, but the defending Currie Cup champions hit their straps in the second period to make it a tightly contested affair.

Had the Pumas made better use of their chances the scoreboard could easily have a different picture.

The scoring in Bloemfontein was opened in the seventh minute with Irish fullback, Chay Mullins, darting over for a converted try that stemmed from sloppy handling by the Pumas.

The visitors doubled their lead just minutes later following a quick tap five metres out from the Pumas tryline, with number eight James Culhane powering over.

The Emerging Irish started taking control of the game and matters were made simpler with the Pumas lock, Shane Kirkwood, in the bin for a dangerous clean-out.

The flyhalf, Jake Flannery, who had been having an impressive game spotted a gap and pinned his ears back for the visitors’ third try in just the 16th minute.

The Pumas managed to get on the board in the 20th minute when the number eight, André Fouche, managed to ground the ball following a quick tap after an Irish penalty for being offside. Captain Tinus de Beer was unable to add the extra two points from the conversion.

Eduan Swart scored the second try for the Pumas when he managed to ground the ball from a strong lineout maul with some ten minutes remaining in the first half. This time De Beer managed to convert the try.

Culhane opened the scoring in the second stanza following a period of sustained pressure, but this was facilitated through ill-discipline by the Pumas, which allowed the Irish to gradually work their way down the field.

The Pumas struck back with a brace of tries by outside centre Sebastiaan de Klerk to make it a four-point game. His first try came from a heel-against-the-head at the scrum, while five minutes later he brilliantly stepped the defender on the side-line to run in for his second score.

Emerging Ireland managed to weather the late charge by the team from the Lowveld to emerge as the victors.

The next game for Emerging Ireland will be on Sunday at 14:00 when they face the Toyota Cheetahs in their last match in South Africa.

Scorers for Pumas:

Tries: André Fouché (20th), Eduan Swart (30th), Sebastiaan de Klerk (60th, 65th)

Conversions: Tinus de Beer [2/4]

Card: Shane Kirkwood (yellow, 13th)

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Scorers for Emerging Ireland:

Tries: Chay Mullins (7th), James Culhane (10th, 52nd ), Jake Flannery

Conversions: Jake Flannery [4/4]

PUMAS: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Jade Stiglingh, 13 Sebastiaan de Klerk, 12 Wian van Niekerk, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Tinus de Beer (captain), 9 Chriswill September, 8 André Fouché, 7 Kwanda Dimaza, 6 Jaco Labuschagné, 5 Shane Kirkwood, 4 Malembe Mpofu, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corné Fourie.

Replacements: 16 PJ Jacobs, 17 Etienne Janeke, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Anele Lungisa, 20 Franna Kleinhans, 21 Givan Snyman, 22 Gene Willemse, 23 Diego Apollis.

EMERGING IRELAND: 15 Chay Mullins, 14 Ethan McIlroy, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Andrew Smith, 10 Jake Flannery, 9 Michael McDonald, 8 James Culhane, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Brian Deeny, 4 Cormac Izuchukwa, 3 Roman Salonoa, 2 Diarmuid Barron, 1 Callum Reid

Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Tom Ahern, 20 David McCann, 21 Ben Murphy, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Shane Daly.

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