Cheetahs pull away from Kings
MATCH REPORT: The free State Cheetahs scored nine tries as they thrashed the Eastern Province Kings 57-25 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The win was the Cheetahs' fourth of the 2016 Currie Cup Premier Division, while the loss for the Kings means they are still winless in this campaign.
The Cheetahs stamped their authority up front form the outset with a strong scrum, which also won them an early penalty. However, Fred Zeilinga could not convert into points from the halfway line.
Both teams were guilty of playing some scrappy rugby in the opening ten minutes and this stifled any momentum from being built, especially for the home side.
After some sustained pressure in the Cheetahs' half, it was the visitors who eventually opened the scoring. After some slick passing in the Cheetahs' 22 the ball eventually found its way to Johan Greyling, who dotted the ball down for the game's first try.
Pieter-Steyn de Wet converted Greyling's try from a tight angle to give his team a 7-0 lead after 11 minutes.
The Kings continued to make life hard for the Cheetahs, but the home side eventually found their feet and after two Zeilinga penalties, they were one point adrift of the visitors.
The Cheetahs then took the lead in the 20th minutes when centre Nico Lee cantered in for a try after some effective offloading by some of his teammates in the Kings' half.
The home side's lead was extended six minutes later when prop Tom Botha powered over from close range for the Cheetahs' second try of the game. Zeilinga converted and the Cheetahs had an 11-point lead.
With less than 10 minutes left in the first half, De Wet reduced the deficit to eight points before the Cheetahs went further head again with another try.
After some more great handling in the Kings' half, the ball found its way to flank Paul Schoeman who barged his way over the tryline in the 32nd minute. Zeilinga could not convert, but the Cheetahs had a handy lead.
After a number of missed opportunities in the final minutes of the half, the Cheetahs had to settle for 13-point lead at half-time.
The Cheetahs had a better start in the second half, but they could not convert opportunities into points when it mattered.
The Kings also had their fair share of opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They turned down a number of kickable penalties for attacking line-outs, which came to nothing in the end.
It was the Cheetahs who broke the scoring drought in the second half when Schoeman scored his second try of the game after some swift passing in the Kings' 22.
The Kings struggled to find a way through the Cheetahs defence for the next few minutes and had to make do with a De Wet drop goal which reduced the deficit to 15 points.
However, the Cheetahs went further in front within a minute after the restart when replacement prop Charles Marais stretched over in the corner. With 20 minutes to go the Cheetahs had a comfortable 20-point lead.
In the final quarter of the match, the Cheetahs scored another four tries to improve their points differential at the end of the day, while the Kings also managed to cross the tryline on two occasions before the final whistle.
Man of the Match: Free State Cheetahs flank Paul Schoeman was outstanding with ball in hand and scored two tries. His teammate, centre Nico lee, also scored two tries and was he brilliant on attack. It was a tough call, but the award ultimately goes to Nico Lee
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Lee 2, Botha, Schoeman 2, N Marais, C Marais 2, Nche
Cons: Zeilinga, N Marais 2
Pens: Zeilinga 2
For Eastern Province Kings:
Tries: Greyling, Klaasen, Jobo
Cons: De Wet, Marais
Pen: De Wet
DG: De Wet
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Nico Lee, 12 William 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 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Justin Basson, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Johann Tromp, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Johan Greyling, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Ricky Schroeder (captain), 8 Christiaan De Bruin, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Vince Jobo, 5 Sebastian Ferreira, 4 Dylan Pieterse, 3 Vukile Sofisa, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Justin Forwood.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Barend Potgieter, 18 Hannes Huishamen, 19 Brandon Brown, 20 Vian van der Watt, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Ganfried May.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Vusi Msibi
TMO: JJ Wagner