Cheetahs power past Griquas
MATCH REPORT: The Free State Cheetahs maintained their 100 percent winning record in this year's Currie Cup Premier Division when they beat Griquas 63-26 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The win solidified the Cheetahs dominance in this year's tournament as they end nine points clear at the top the standings
The Cheetahs will host the Golden Lions in one of the semifinals, while Western Province will travel to Pretoria to face the Blue Bulls in the other semi.
Griquas got off to the perfect start when centre Jonathan Francke went over for a try within the first 15 seconds after the home side failed to secure possession from the opening kick-off. The loose ball was gathered by Marius Fourie before the hooker passed to Francke for the five-pointer.
The Cheetahs took some time get going in the game and it was the home side's pack who set-up their first try. After a powerful scrum near Griquas' tryline, the Cheetahs were awarded a penalty try and Niel Marais converted for a 7-5 lead.
The home side turned on the gas after that score and scored two runaway tries via Uzair Cassiem and Shaun Venter from deep inside their half after each other to pull away from the Kimberley outfit. Marais converted both tries and the Cheetahs had a handy 16-point lead.
Despite being on the back foot in most areas of the game, Griquas hit back with a try of their own when scrumhalf Renier Botha sneaked over for a score in the 25th minute from close range after a powerful driving maul by his forwards in the Cheetahs' 22. Andre Swarts added the extras with the conversion to reduce the deficit to nine points.
However, it did not take long for the Cheetahs' to get their bonus-point try and what a try it was. After some slick handling in the Griquas' 22 the ball eventually found its way to Henco Venter who ran in for the score.
The Cheetahs scored two more converted tries via Niel Marais and Nico Lee before half-time to go into the break with a commanding 30-point lead.
Griquas needed to be the first to score in the second half and they did exactly that when Swarts stretched over for a try in the 45th minute after some good interplay between forwards and backs in the Cheetahs' half.
Both teams were playing some enterprising rugby at both ends of the field for the next 10 minutes and it was the Cheetahs who the next to score when scrumhalf Venter scored his second try in the 58th minute. Fred Zeilinga added the extra two points to restore the Cheetahs' 30-point lead.
There were two more tries in the final 10 minutes with Jason Fraser securing the bonus point for Griquas, while replacement Torsten Van Jaarsveld put the cherry on top for the Cheetahs with a score as well.
Man of the match: You could mention quite a few players from the Free State Cheetahs, but we decided to give it to scrumhalf Shaun Venter for scoring two tries and just giving his backline great service against a plucky Griquas outfit.
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Cassiem, S Venter 2, H venter, N Marais, Lee, Van Jaarsveld, Rhule, Penalty Try
Cons: N Marais 6, Zeilinga 3
Tries: Francke, Botha, Swarts, Fraser
Cons: Swarts 3
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Francios Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques Du Toit, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 William Small-Smith.
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen (captain), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Liam Hendricks, 2 Marius Fourie, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Sidney Tobias, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Steven Meiring, 19 Thabo Mabuza, 20 Eric Zana, 21 Ntabeni Dukisa, 22 Steven Moir.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner