Anthony Volmink scored a hat-trick to help the Cheetahs claim a 63-26 bonus-point victory over Ulster in Bloemfontein on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Could this be the Cheetahs’ year? That is what the Bloemfontein faithful will be asking after their side turned in another impressive home performance against one of the PRO14 giants.
The hosts shone in both attack and defence and look far more balanced and composed than they did last season. While there will be tougher trials, especially away in Europe, this was another sign that the Cheetahs could be South Africa’s hope of getting a team into the playoffs.
Rhyno Smith, Ruan Pienaar – playing against his former side – and front-row duo Joseph Dweba and Ox Nche once again turned in standout performances as the Cheetahs bagged all five points to top their conference.
The Cheetahs next host Munster, who powered to a 31-20 win over the Kings, in their final home game before their first tour to the northern hemisphere.
A brace from wing Anthony Volmink, his first scores for the Cheetahs, as well as tries from Smith and Dweba helped the home side to a 28-7 half-time lead, with Pienaar converting all four tries.
Volmink sealed his hat-trick with a fine intercept try minutes into the second half, before Smith went over for his brace after a fantastic break from Jasper Wiese. In a penalty-ridden period Ulster hit back through tries from James Hume and David Shanahan. However, the Cheetahs were still able to bring the half-century through a try from replacement hooker Reinach Venter.
Cheetahs – Tries: Anthony Volmink (3), Rhyno Smith (2), Joseph Dweba, Louis Fouche, Reinach Venter, penalty try. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (8).
Ulster – Try: Sam Carter, James Hume, David Shanahan, Craig Gilroy. Conversion: John Cooney (3).
Cheetahs – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Erich de Jager, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Sias Koen, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Louis Fouche.
Ulster – 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 James Hume, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Bill Johnston, 9 John Cooney, 8 Greg Jones, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Jack McGrath.
Subs: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Alan O’Connor, 20 Clive Ross, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Michael Lowry, 23 Louis Ludik.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images