The visitors showed glimpses of their dominance in the opening half by scoring three tries for a 24-6 lead at the break. They then completely dominated the second half, outscoring and physically outplaying the hosts by 26-3 and dotting down four more times.
The Lowvelders' pack were ruthless in their execution and played to their strengths, with the last three tries coming through driving play by the forwards. The young Lions side had no answer to the physical dominance of the Pumas and were totally outplayed, especially in the second half.
The first points of the match came via the boot of Airlink Pumas flyhalf Tinus de Beer, who kicked his side ahead after 14 minutes. Phumzile Maqondwana, who led the visitors, broke through a tackle and ran well and when he was stopped near the hosts' line, the Lions strayed offside. De Beer stepped up to do the rest.
Under pressure, the home side were behind their poles two minutes later. They lost possession due to a wild pass in the Pumas' 22 and the visitors gladly accepted, with fullback Devon Williams running more than half the field to score under the sticks. De Beer converted for a 10-0 lead after 17 minutes.
Sigma Lions pivot Vaughen Isaacs slotted a long range effort to get the hosts on the board ten minutes later, but their joy was short lived as the Airlink Pumas struck back with a try by flanker Daniel Maartens to extend their lead to 17-3 after 30 minutes, with De Beer slotting the conversion from a difficult angle.
Isaacs kicked a second penalty goal from straight in front to cut the lead just before the break after the Lions won a scrum penalty.
But there was still enough time for the visitors to score their third try before the break. The Pumas forced an attacking lineout and their pack drove over the line with hooker Corné Fourie getting up with the ball. De Beer easily slotted his third conversion to give the Nelspruit side a handy and well-deserved lead.
It was the home side who started the second half strongly and Isaacs landed another penalty goal two minutes in to reduce the lead to 24-9, however, they once more allowed their visitors to score straight from the kick-off. This time it was De Beer who saw a gap and ran in untouched for another try, securing the Airlink Pumas’ bonus-point in the process.
However, the game then deteriorated as both coaches emptied the bench, and the heat became a factor as well. The Pumas regrouped best with replacement prop Simon Raw bulldozing his way over the whitewash to extend their lead to 27 points with 15 minutes to play.
That was soon extended to 34 points after replacement hooker Llewellyn Classen followed Raw's example and barged over after a number of forward drives by the pack.
Brandon Valentyn scored the final try of the match, again off the back of a couple of powerful lineout drives, a try that confirmed the total domination of the Airlink Pumas pack.
Sigma Lions 9 (6) – Penalty goals: Vaughen Isaacs (3).
Airlink Pumas 50 (24) - Tries: Devon Williams, Daniel Maartens, Corné Fourie, Tinus de Beer, Simon Raw, Llewellyn Classen, Brandon Valentyn. Conversions: De Beer (6). Penalty goal: De Beer.