Wings Malcolm Jaer and Rosko Specman scored five tries between them as the Cheetahs cruised to a 53-31 win over the Pumas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cheetahs had the bonus-point try wrapped up in the first half as they opened up a 34-3 lead with hardly raising a sweat.
Still smarting from SA Rugby’s decision to ditch them from the PRO14 from next year, the Cheetahs played like men possessed and dead set on proving a point. They were never troubled by the Pumas, who simply had no answer for the Cheetahs’ pace, power and gainline dominance.
Jaer, who was in doubt for this clash, completed his brace of tries within the opening 12 minutes – an early sign of things to come – while Specman would bag a double of his own later in the half. Flank Junior Pokomela and flyhalf Ruan Pienaar also dotted down, with the latter’s effort coming after Specman unselfishly passed up a hat-trick by popping the ball to his captain in the in-goal area.
Specman didn’t return to the field after the break as a precautionary measure for a slight injury, but there was no shortage of ‘magic’ in his absence as his replacement, William Small-Smith, added his name to the scoresheet with his first touch of the ball soon after the restart.
To the Pumas’ credit, though, they showed a bit of fight despite everything going against them. Trailing by 43, the Pumas needed a catalyst to kick them into gear and it came in the guise of an uncharacteristic mistake from Pienaar. The veteran scrumhalf tried to pick the ball up at the back of a scrum, but left it behind and his opposite number, Gunter Smuts, pounced to score.
But it was only temporary reprieve for the minnows as replacement Jaer went over for his third and the Cheetahs’ eighth try close the hour mark to send the hosts’ tally past the half-century mark.
The last quarter of the match was scrappy, as the Cheetahs lost their spark on attack and in defence, allowing the Pumas to score three unanswered tries to put some respectability on the scoresheet.
Cheetahs – Tries: Malcolm Jaer (3), Junior Pokomela, Rosko Specman (2), Ruan Pienaar, William Small-Small. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (5). Penalty: Pienaar.
Pumas – Tries: Ginter Smuts, Daniel Maartens, Le Roux Roets, Neil Maritz. Conversions: Eddie Fouche (4). Penalty: Fouche.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (c), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Erich Jager, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Aidon Davis, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 William Small-Smith.
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Wayne van der Bank, 12 Ryan Nell (c), 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Kwanda Dimaza, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Morgan Naude.
Subs: 16 Liam Hendricks, 17 Simon Westraadt, 18 Dewald Maritz, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Jeandre Rudolph, 21 Dian Badenhorst, 22 Neil Marais, 23 Ruwellyn Isbell, 24 HP van Schoor (standby), 25 Fiela Boshoff (standby).
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images