Part exciting, skilled rugby and part unhappy incidents
The Cheetahs beat a 14-man Griquas 40-20 in a match in Bloemfontein on Saturday that was marred by a biting incident.
It was a mixed match in a largely empty stadium on a cold afternoon - part exciting, skilled rugby and part unhappy incidents.
"Two men looked through prison bars./One saw mud the other saw stars." Let's deal with Oscar Wilde's mud first.
Apart from the yellow card for each team, there was a horrible accident that saw Hilton Lobberts rushed to hospital with a broken forearm and then there was the miserable red card for his Australian locking partner Rory Arnold who was found to have bitten the forearm of Ethienne Reynecke after he had scored a try.
And the stars? Seven tries were scored, five by the fast, creative Free Staters who built on the artistry of Robert Ebersohn. Free State scored more tries but right up to the last Griquas played with proud courage. They just met superior defence.
For the Cheetahs this win over their neighbours and in several cases fellow-townsmen brought them a haul of five Currie Cup points. - enough to set Raymond Rhule and Trevor Nyakane dancing.
Griquas kicked off, Elgar Watts, who had a rickety start to the match failed to find touch, and the visitors from down the road went through 16 phases till Lappies Labuschagne was penalised at a tackle and Nico Scheepers goaled the penalty. 3-0 after 3 minutes.
Then it was the Cheetahs' turn to run back and forth through many phases till Hennie Daniller was forced out at the left corner. When Arnold was penalised at a tackle, Riaan Smit goaled. 3-3 after 15 minutes.
Cheetahs were doing things faster but Griquas were not enthralled and when Labuschagne was offside, Scheepers restored their lead. 6-3 after 18 minutes.
Watts had great touch-finders from penalties. One gave his side a five-metre line-out. Ineluctably they formed a maul. They got into gear and Boom Prinsloo fell down for the try. 8-6 after 22 minutes.
They came close to scoring again when Sarel Pretorius had a run from a scrum. He chipped and got up for the bouncing ball but Johann Sadie passed into touch. But the Cheetahs were attacking and they went left frorm a line-out where the ever-active Nyakane forged ahead and with three defenders hanging about his body gave a perfect pass to Rhule who danced past two defenders to score. 15-6 after 37 minutes.
Straight after the kick-off Rhule got hold of a wayward[pass and raced down the left. Miraculously Francois Brummer caught up with him and felled him. But still it was not the end.
Cheetahs won a line-out and went right as the siren wailed. Watts chipped, Sadie got the ball and gave to Ebersohn who was over the line when - shades of an Under-11 match - he gave a pass to his captain Prinsloo who again fell to ground for a try. 22-6, the half-time score.
The question at half time was whether Cheetahs could manage to win this time or if they would fritter away their winning lead.
Cheetahs started the second half attacking. A brilliant Watts penalty gave them a five-metre line-out, which, needless to say, they mauled but Griquas kept them out. The Cheetahs had a five-metre penalty at a scrum, tapped and attacked. Nyakane was close but Lood de Jager was penalised in trying to score a try, But that did not stop the Cheetahs.
They went right from a line-out and Ebersohn broke sharply. He gave inside to Sadie who gave inside to Watts who scooped up the awkward pass and wandered over for the try. 29-6 after 49 minutes. That was the Cheetahs' bonus-point try.
Then the ugly side of the game started protruding. De Jager was penalised at a tackle. Marnus Hugo tapped and had run about a metre when Oupa Mohoje tackled him and was sent to the win bin.
Griquas then went through phases - out right and then out left to Rocco Jansen inside his own half. He raced and then kicked ahead and it was race between him and Philip van der Walt for the ball in the in-goal, a race which Jansen just won. 29-13 after 51 minutes.
A Watts penalty gave the Cheetahs an attacking line-out and Marnus Schoeman was sent to the sin bin for his own sins and those of his team-mates before him. Watts goaled. 32-13.
Then it was Griquas' turn to use a penalty for a five-metre line-out and a lot of bashing till Arnold got over for the try with a lot of Free State trying to stop him. One of those was Reynecke. The referee awarded the try and then Reynecke and his captain came to show the referee his bitten arm. The TMO examined the incident and decided that Arnold had in fact bitten Reynecke and the big Aussie was sent off in his first Currie Cup match, which may well be his last.
The match was restarted with a penalty kick in the middle of the half-way line and the score 32-20.
Down to 13 men the lockless Griquas struggled at their last four scrums but they fought bravely on, doing well at pick-'n-drive.
The siren went and the Cheetahs who clearly enjoy playing rugby the way they play it, kept on running and weaving till Prinsloo was close and stocky Kevin Luiters picked up the ball, dummied and dived. Watts converted. 40-20, and the match was over.
Well, not quite, for there is still a disciplinary inquiry to come.
Man of the Match: There were Cheetahs who really stood out - especially Philip van der Walt, creative Robert Ebersohn and our man of the match - energetic, smiling Trevor Nyakane who played for every second he was on the field.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Prinsloo 2, Rhule, Watts, luiters
Cons: Smit 2, Watts
Pens: Smit, Watts 2
Tries: Jansen, Arnold
Cons: Scheepers 2
Pens: Scheepers 2
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Teboho Mohoje, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Piet Lindeque.
Griquas: 15 PJ Vermeulen, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 JP Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Carel Greeff, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Patrick O'Brien, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Richard Lawson.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Francois de Bruin
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee