Cheetahs go top after Wellington rout
MATCH REPORT: The Free State Cheetahs moved to the top of the standings at the end of the opening round of the Currie Cup competition.
The Cheetahs outscored the Boland Cavaliers by five tries to one in a 44-16 rout at the Boland Stadium, in Wellington, on Saturday.
The Cheetahs raced into a 10-0 lead in as many minutes, before three Nico Scheepers penalties narrowed the gap to 9-10 at the half-time break.
However, the second half was mostly one-way traffic - as the Cheetahs increased their tempo and intensity to Super Rugby level and left the Cavaliers in their wake.
It was a rude awakening for Boland, who returned to the Currie Cup for the first time in seven years.
The Cheetahs' Super Rugby experience also showed when it mattered most, after the break.
Flyhalf Fred Zeilinga opened the scoring for his Cheetahs side with an early penalty, before his cross-field kick was expertly controlled by centre William Small-Smith. The ball was then given to wing Sergeal Petersen, who went over in the corner. A superb touchline conversion by Zeilinga saw the visitors lead 10-0.
The rest of the half saw Cavaliers fullback Nico Scheepers kick three penalties, to narrow the gap to 9-10 at half-time.
His final effort was especially spectacular, being from about 48 metres out.
Raymond Rhule joined fellow wing Petersen on the score sheet, before Small-Smith was rewarded for an industrious match.
The introduction of prop Charles Marais saw prop Retshegofaditswe Nche move from the loosehead side to tighthead and the youngster kept ticking boxes, even turning the ball over on occasion.
Scrumhalf Shaun Venter then sold a massive dummy near the home team tryline and wrapped up the bonus-point for the visitors.
Danwel Demas, collecting a superb grubber from his flyhalf Adriaan Carelse, then grabbed a consolation score, which Scheepers expertly converted.
The final score of the day belong to the Cheetahs captain Francois Venter, who took the ball close to the line and worked hard to score the try.
Zeilinga added the conversion, which saw his personal tally for the match finish on 19 points.
Man of the match: Nico Scheepers did an admiral job at fullback, while Shaun McFonald worked hard. Clayton Blommetjies was full of running and Raymond Rhule found a gaps. Fred Zeilinga also looked impressive. However, nobody could match the energy and effectiveness of Cheetahs prop Retshegofaditswe Nché.
For the Boland Cavaliers:
Pens: Scheepers 3
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Petersen, Rhule, Small-Smith, S Venter, F Venter
Cons: Zeilinga 5
Pens: Zeilinga 3
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Sergio Torrens, 13 Ryan Nell (captain), 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Adriaan Carelse, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandre Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Kenan Cronje, 5 Johannes Kitshoff, 4 Shaun McDondald, 3 Basil Short, 2 Clemen Lewis, 1 Stephanus Wessels.
Replacements: 16 Chadley Wenn, 17 Francois Hanekom, 18 Joubert Horn, 19 Chaney Willemse, 20 Jovelian de Koker, 21 William van Wyk, 22 Craig Pheiffer.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Justin Basson, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Rodney Boneparte
Assistant referees: Francois Pretorius, Sinethemba Mrulwa
TMO: Shaun Veldsman