Fortuitous Cheetahs hold on in Bloem
The Cheetahs held on in the face of a fierce second-half comeback by the Lions to score a fortuitous 26-23 Currie Cup win in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Free State Cheetahs held on in the face of a fierce second-half comeback by the Golden Lions to score a fortuitous 26-23 Currie Cup win in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Free State Cheetahs scored only once in the second half and they did so with just four minutes to play, but it was enough to win them the match. The first half did it.
In the first half the Cheetahs seemed calmly heading for victory as they ended it with a 20-point lead. They scored two tries and kicked both conversions and three penalty goals to a lonely penalty by Elton Jantjies. But in the end the Free State were straining to win and managed it with a lonely penalty by Rian Smit. Free State are making a second-half fade a habit while the Golden Lions habitually do better in the second half, playing with greater zest.
In the first half the Golden Lions were slow moving, making every line-out which they won into a maul, but not always winning their line-outs. They scrummed much better than the home side, but the Free State seemed able to cope with their rickety scrum.
The Golden Lion's biggest weakness was their tackling. In the first half they missed nearly a quarter of their tackles but once they scented victory their efforts rose, and in the end they were probably unlucky to go home defeated.
On the other hand the Free State defence was generally well organised and effective.
Free State scored first. From a line-out they went into a pick-'n-drive routine and then sent to Johann Sadie who dummied, accelerated around Tian Meyer and scored. Smit converted, as he did all night - 7-0 after eight minutes.
When the Golden Lions went through phases, the Free State defence kept them out till Willie Wepener was penalised and the siege lifted.
When Pieter Labuschagne was penalised at a tackle, Jantjies goaled. - 7-3 after 20 minutes, the solitary Golden Lions' score in the half.
The Free State attacked with Elgar Watts and Robert Ebersohn prominent but a knock-on thwarted them. However, a penalty at a tackle made it 10-3, and at this stage it was all Free State.
When Jantjies went in at the side of a tackle, Smith goaled - 13-3 after 27 minutes
Free State tapped a penalty and attacked but Willie Britz stopped Labuschagne at the line. Free State had the first of four five-metre scrums in the half but the Golden Lions survived.
It was to be Free State's line-out but Jantjies threw the ball away, leading to a bit of playground anger between him and Teboho Mohoje. Off Jantjies went to the sin bin. In his absence Free State scored 10 points.
From a five-metre scrum Johannes Prinsloo charged but somehow, possibly miraculously, Ross Cronje, on for bleeding Tian Meyer, held him up. The Golden Lions defended well and eventually Smit kicked a penalty with six minutes to go to half-time.
There was a minute left in the half when again the Free State had a five-metre scrum. This time Pretorius broke, brushed off Warwick Tecklenburg and scored at the posts. 23-3, the half-time score.
It was all change in the second half as the Golden Lions upped the tempo. Mind you, it started badly for the Free State when Smith kicked the kick-off over the dead-ball line.
The Golden Lions did pick-'n-go and kicked a penalty out for a five-metre line-out, which they lost. But Jantjies goaled a scrum penalty - 23-6 after 50 minutes.
A wayward pass towards their goal-line put the Golden Lions under intense pressure but the improvement in their eagerness to tackle was marked in this half.
The Free State had a great chance to score in the left corner but a horde of Golden Lions players forced them into touch. That was their chance to score a try done in the second half.
A brilliant touch kick by Jantjies from a penalty gave the Golden Lions a five-metre line-out.
This time the throw deep to Franco van der Merwe gave them a maul from which they bashed. Free State withstood but then the Golden Lions went through phases and going right Dylan Des Fountain threw a brilliant, long pass to Jaco Kriel. The sturdy loose forward bashed off Raymond Rhule and then played inside to Robert de Bruyn who was tackled but got a pass away to substitute Ruhan Nel who scored at the posts - 23-13 with 21 minutes to play.
The speed of the game was given added impetus.
Anthony Volmink got a long pass on the left and raced down the touchline. A tackler ahead, he grubbered infield where Andries Coetzee caught Rhule on the Free State line. There was a contest for the ball and the referee referred the matter to the TMO. The referee looked at the big screen as he was entitled to do. The TMO's advice was that Volmink had put his hands into a ruck, but the referee said to him: "I disagree with you", and awarded a try to the Golden Lions for Volmink had clearly grounded the ball on or even over the Free State line - 23-20 with 16 minutes to play.
There was lots of life in the game as both sides got stuck in.
The Golden Lions went through phases but knocked on. Free State had a goalable penalty but opted for a five-metre line-out and then lost the line-out.
Then the Free State were penalised at a tackle and with a long kick Jantjies levelled the scores - 23-all with seven minutes to play.
Both sides were now filled with zest.
The Golden Lions were penalised at a tackle and Free State kicked out. They won the line-out and had a good maul going but Derick Minnie pulled it down. On advantage Watts tried a drop but missed and the referee went back to the penalty, which Smit goaled - 26-23 with four minutes to play.
Free State had the better of the four minutes and when the final siren sounded Watts kicked the ball out for the narrow victory.
It was a thrilling match.
Man of the Match: Elton Jantjies probing, Sarel Pretorius running, Teboho Mohoje strong and forceful.,Jaco Kriel so hard to bring down, Raymond Rhule in sinuous moments, Willie Britz eager and energetic - all are candidates but our Man of the Match is clever, tough Robert Ebersohn..
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Sadie, Pretorius
Cons: Smit 2
Pens: Smit 4
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Nel, Volmink
Cons: Jantjies 2
Pens: Jantjies 3
Yellow card: Elton Jantjies (Lions, 30 - professional foul, throwing the ball away)
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 Johannes Prinsloo (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Davon Raubenheimer, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Teboho Mohoje, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Freddy Ngoza, 19 Tertius Daniller, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Piet Lindeque.
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Robert de Bruyn, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Warwick Tecklenberg, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Ruan Venter, 3 Jacobus Roux, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Hugo Klopper, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Lusanda Jam, Oregopotse Rametsi
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee