The Cheetahs clinched a commanding 61-25 bonus-point win over the Kings in Bloemfontein to end their Pro14 campaign on a positive note.
With nothing but pride at stake, these South African sides were primed to express themselves and produce an entertaining clash. And they did not disappoint, as 11 tries were scored. One downer on the game was that Cheetahs wing Rabz Maxwane failed to break the competition’s try-scoring record and now has to settle for joint all-time top-scorer in a single season.
Be that as it may, it was a highly competitive encounter from which the Cheetahs ultimately prevailed to keep their perfect record against the Kings intact.
The Cheetahs scored the first try through flank Abongile Nonkontwana, but two penalties from Masixole Banda meant the Kings closed the gap to a point. But then the Cheetahs seized control of the game as Walt Steenkamp, Joseph Dweba and Shaun Venter all dotted down to ensure the Cheetahs got a bonus point.
Centre Harlon Klaasen grabbed the Kings’ only try of the half as they went into the break 28-13 down.
The same unstructured pattern of play followed in the second half as both sides ran hard and direct with the ball from all over the field. The Cheetahs started the second half strongly, scoring through fullback Louis Fouche within seconds of kick-off. Not to be undone by their rivals, the Kings answered a try double of their own to bring the scores to 33-25 and set up an exciting final 30 minutes.
But the Kings comeback flame was doused in the last quarter, thanks in large part to their unreliable defence. The hosts added three further scores, including a second touchdown from Venter, to finish their campaign with a flourish.
Cheetahs – Tries: Abongile Nonkontwana, Walt Steenkamp, Joseph Dweba, Shaun Venter (2), Louis Fouche, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Jaer, Boan Venter. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (8).
Kings – Tries: Harlon Klaasen (2), Bjorn Basson. Conversion: Masixole Banda (2). Penalties: Banda (2).
Cheetahs – 15 Louis Fouché, 14 Tian Meyer (c), 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Marnus van der Merwe, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Deba, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Malcolm Jaer, 23 Darron Adonis.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Meli Rokoua, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Sibusiso Sithole, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Courtney Winnaar, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 JC Astle, 4 Dries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Jurie van Vuuren, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Photo: Cheetahs Rugby