The Cheetahs clinched a deserved 48-14 bonus-point win over the Glasgow Warriors in Bloemfontein to begin their Pro14 campaign in superb fashion on Friday.
The Warriors – losing finalists last season – were completely outplayed by a Cheetahs side who showed a keen willingness to run the ball from all areas of the field.
The men from Bloemfontein started the new season with a dominant defensive and set-piece display, with the hosts claiming their first victory over the Scottish side after losing all 4 previous encounters.
The visitors who had several players missing due to their World Cup commitments, still managed to field a side with nine internationals but struggled against a determined Cheetahs team.
The Warriors, who were clearly rattled by the Cheetahs onslaught early on, struggled to string together multiple phases, with their handling and defensive effort simply not up to scratch.
Veteran scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar – who contributed 18 points on the night – enjoyed a dream start in his first PRO14 match for the Cheetahs when he opened the scoring after a scything break from another new recruit in fullback Rhyno Smith.
Pienaar’s conversion and a subsequent penalty saw the hosts fly out to a deserved lead early on.
The hosts extended their lead when, after an offload from flyhalf Tian Schoeman, explosive hooker Joseph Dwebe showed great acceleration to outstrip the Glasgow backs to score a brilliant try from 30m out.
The Warriors would eventually hit back through a try from scrumhalf Nic Frisby, before Dwebe grabbed his brace from an effective lineout maul, with the home side taking a 24-7 lead into the break.
Former Stormers flyhalf Brandon Thomson set up replacement back Robbie Nairn for the Warriors’ second try, before the Cheetahs extended their lead with a flurry of second half tries.
Smith secured the bonus-point try after a break by lock Walt Steenkamp, with the fullback on hand to dot down under the posts.
Junior Pokomela then crashed over in the corner after good interplay between backs and forwards, before Smith grabbed his brace after collecting a well-weighted box kick by Pienaar.
Replacement flank Sias Koen then capped off an impressive night for the recently crowned Currie Cup champions with a try in his first PRO14 game for the franchise.
The Cheetahs’ high tempo throughout proved too much for the Warriors on the night, and although early in the season, the hosts will be eyeing a playoff spot in this year’s tournament after an impressive start.
Cheetahs – Tries: Ruan Pienaar, Joseph Dweba (2), Rhyno Smith (2), Junior Pokomela, Sias Koen. Conversions: Pienaar (5). Penalty: Pienaar
Glasgow – Tries: Nick Frisby, Robbie Nairn. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (2).
Picture: @CheetahsRugby Twitter