Zeilinga boots Cheetahs to Newlands triumph
REPORT: The Cheetahs held on for a thrilling 32-25 win over Western Province in their Currie Cup Round Three match at Newlands on Friday.
The hosts outscored their opponents by three tries to two, but the unerring boot of Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga - who kicked two conversions and six penalties - proved the difference.
The Cheetahs were clearly intent on speeding up the game, but their accuracy was not always good enough.
Province looked to bring their big backline ball-carriers into play and were effective with that at times in the first half.
However, it was in the set pieces where Cheetahs had an edge and significantly in the end.
A string of early penalties against the Cheetahs for offences at the breakdown saw Brandon Thomson open the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty.
That was followed by a Huw Jones try - created through a sniping break from scrumhalf Jano Vermaak around the back of a line-out. The Thomson conversion made it 10-0 in as many minutes.
It sparked the Cheetahs to life and in the 14th minute Fred Zeilinga opened the visitors' account with a penalty. A scrum penalty from the restart - which went to far and allowed the Cheetahs a scrumhalf on halfway - saw Zeilinga narrow the gap to 6-10.
The Cheetahs hit the lead in the 21st minute - with Nico Lee running a brilliant line, in a set-piece move from a scrum on the WP 22 - to go over uncontested. The conversion made it 13-10 to the visitors.
Province reclaimed the lead in the 27th minute - a powerful counter ruck leaving the Cheetahs exposed down their left flank and Johnny Kotze had too much pace for the cover defence. The conversion was wide - 15-13.
A scrum penalty awarded to WP allowed Thomson to stretch the lead to 18-13 in the 33rd minute. It stayed like that until half-time.
The Cheetahs got the second half off to the perfect start -0 Nico Lee making another brilliant break and Tiaan Meyer ran a great support like to get the ball and flop over for the try. The conversion made it 20-18 to the visitors.
A couple of silly penalties by Province then handed moment to the Cheetahs. It allowed Zeilinga to make it 23-18 in the 56th minute.
That became 26-18 in the 60th minute, following another scrum penalty awarded to the visitors.
WP worked their way back into the game and with 15 minutes left on the clock Leolin Zas was put over from a well-worked line-out move close to the Cheetahs line. The Robert du Preez conversion made it a one-point game - 25-26.
Zeilinga then kicked a penalty from just on 50 metres out to give the Cheetahs some breathing space going into the final 10 minutes.
With just two minutes on the clock, WP were penalised at a tackle right in front of their uprights - Zeilinga kicking a sixth penalty to make it 32-25.
That is how it stayed to the end..
Man of the match: Cheslin Kolbe impressed in his second-half cameo. Jano Vermaak had a decent game, including a brilliant sniping break. Sikhumbuzo Notshe was busy, while Huw Jones scored one and created another try. Uzair Cassiem was busy as usual, while Paul Schoeman was the Cheetahs' most productive forward by some distance. Nico Lee - on debut - scored a try by running a sublime line and then created another with an equally impressive break. However, our award goes to Cheetah flyhalf Fred Zeilinga - who was the general that directed his troops and ultimately secured the win with his unerring goal-kicking.
For Western Province:
Tries:Jones, Kotze, Zas
Cons: Thomson, Du Preez
Pens: Thomson 2
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Cons: Zeilinga 2
Pens: Zeilinga 6
Western Province: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Cheslin Kolbe.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Williams Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Michael van der Spuy.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Paul Mente
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans